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Congressman Henry Cuellar issues first comment since FBI raid on his Laredo home

U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) stops to talk to reporters on his way vote on the House floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 4, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) stops to talk to reporters on his way to vote on the House floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. U.S., November 4, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

Story updated Jan. 25, 2022.

ABC and CBS News report the FBI’s raid last week on Congressman Henry Cuellar’s Laredo home is part of a wide-ranging federal investigation related to the country of Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessman. 

Cuellar is a co-chair of the Azerbaijan Congressional Caucus. He has regularly met with Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the U.S.

In 2015, he coordinated a collaboration between Texas A&M International University in Laredo with a group called the Assembly of Friends of Azerbaijan — which has also donated to his campaign, according to Open Secrets which tracks money in politics.

The collaboration centered around oil and gas studies with Texas students being able to take trips to the Baku Summer Energy School in Azerbaijan’s capital city.

Cuellar issued his first statement about the investigation on Tuesday, reiterating that he will cooperate with the FBI’s investigation.

"I'm fully cooperating with law enforcement. I’m committed to ensuring that justice and the law is upheld. There is an ongoing investigation that we showed that there was no wrongdoing on my part," he said in the statement.

Cuellar also announced his plans to seek reelection in the 28th District.

Henry Cuellar FBI investigation statement

He will face Jessica Cisneros and Tannya Benavides in the March primary. Cisneros ran against the incumbent in 2020, and she made a statement in light of the investigation.

“For South Texans, the FBI investigation into Henry Cuellar is alarming and yet there were already serious concerns about the Congressman’s long history of corruption and close ties with his corporate donors over the voters of this district,” Cisneros said in a press release. “I’m not taking a dime from health insurance lobbyists or corporate PACs. I’m fighting for Medicare for All because health care should be a right, not a privilege.”

TPR has not independently confirmed the scope of the investigation. The FBI and Justice Department declined to comment. 

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, at 7:01 p.m.

The FBI confirmed that it conducted a search of Congressman Henry Cuellar's Laredo home on Wednesday but did not specify what it is investigating.

Cuellar's office said it is cooperating with the FBI.

“Congressman Cuellar will fully cooperate in any investigation," his office said in a statement. "He is committed to ensuring that justice and the law are upheld."

FBI spokesperson Rosanne Hughes confirmed law enforcement's presence at Cuellar's home Wednesday evening.

“The FBI was present in the vicinity of Windridge Drive and Estate Drive in Laredo conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity," Hughes said in a statement. "The FBI cannot provide further comment on an ongoing investigation.”

Valerie Gonzalez of the McAllen Monitor reported the FBI loaded large bags, plastic bins and a computer into a federal vehicle by 7:30 p.m.

Cuellar serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

He's held the 28th district seat since 2005. The district includes South San Antonio, Laredo, and the Rio Grande Valley. He's also a former state representative and Texas Secretary of State.

He faces a primary challenge from Jessica Cisneros, an immigration attorney who Cuellar narrowly defeated in 2020.

Dan Katz and Pablo De La Rosa contributed to this report.

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