House Ethics panel opens inquiry into Cuellar in wake of federal indictment

The House Ethics Committee has set up an investigative panel to probe the actions of Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas following the congressman’s recent indictment in federal court.

A release from the committee on Wednesday states that it unanimously voted to establish an investigative subcommittee, which will have jurisdiction “to determine whether Representative Cuellar solicited or accepted bribes, gratuities, or improper gifts; acted as a foreign agent; violated federal money laundering laws; misused his official position for private gain; and/or made false statements or omissions on public disclosure statements filed with the House.”

Cuellar and his wife were charged in May with accepting nearly $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities, according to an indictment in federal court in Texas. Cuellar has said that he and his wife are innocent.

“I respect the work of the House Ethics Committee,” Cuellar said in a statement on Wednesday.

“As I said on May 3, I am innocent of these allegations, and everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas,” he said.

The alleged scheme took place from late 2014 through at least November 2021, according to the indictment.

At the time of the indictment, Cuellar said in a statement that actions he took in Congress were “in the interest of the American people” and vowed to continue his bid for reelection in November. The congressman also defended his wife: “The allegation that she is anything but qualified and hard working is both wrong and offensive.”

The House Ethics Committee said it is in communication with the Department of Justice “to mitigate the potential risks” associated with running an investigation while the federal case against Cuellar proceeds. The committee said it was compelled to act due to its “obligations to safeguard the integrity of the House.”

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