FBI agents at Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s house, but won’t say what they’re investigating

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, is one of the more powerful Texas Democrats in Washington...
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, is one of the more powerful Texas Democrats in Washington due in part to his assignment on the House Appropriations Committee.(REUTERS/Lenin Nolly)
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 8:19 PM CST
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By Abby Livingston and Brooke Park, The Texas Tribune

Jan. 19, 2022

FBI agents at Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s house, but won’t say what they’re investigating” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The FBI was on the scene Wednesday near the Laredo home of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar for what authorities described as a court-authorized ongoing investigation.

FBI spokesperson Rosanne Hughes confirmed law enforcement’s presence in the area but did not clarify what authorities were investigating.

Hughes said in a statement that the FBI was present on two streets around Cuellar’s house in Laredo “conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity.”

“The FBI cannot provide further comment on an ongoing investigation,” she said.

On Wednesday evening, Cuellar’s office released a statement: “Congressman Cuellar will fully cooperate in any investigation. He is committed to ensuring that justice and the law are upheld.”

Agents were seen taking cases and other items from the congressman’s home, according to MyRGVNews.

First elected in 2004, Cuellar is longtime representative of his Laredo-based 28th District.

A former state legislator and Texas secretary of state, he is one of the more powerful Texas Democrats in Washington due in part to his assignment on the House Appropriations Committee.

Cuellar is a favorite Democrat among his Texas Republican colleagues, and his moderate voting record has earned the ire of the left. He will face what is expected to be a fierce rematch in his party’s March 1 primary against attorney Jessica Cisneros. Another Democrat, former educator Tannya Benavides, is also in the race.

Republicans Ed Cabrera, Steve Fowler, Cassy Garcia, Eric Hohman, Willie Vasquez Ng, Rolando Rodriguez and Sandra Whitten are running for the GOP nomination in this race. Rafael Alcoser III is running as an independent.

Cuellar has increasingly become a figure of derision among progressives in recent years. He will sometimes join Republicans to vote against Democratic priorities, particularly on abortion.

Cisneros ran against Cuellar in the 2020 Democratic primary. With the support of EMILY’s List and a number of high-profile liberal figures, she came within 4 percentage points of defeating him.

Cuellar went on to carry the district by an 18-point lead in the general election. At the same time, Republicans made headway in the district when President Joe Biden carried it by a surprisingly narrow 5-point margin.

While Cuellar has detractors, he’s known within the larger Democratic House caucus as a mostly loyal member who carries his weight in fundraising for fellow Democrats. Cuellar is on track next term to secure an appropriations subcommittee gavel, a designation known around the Capitol as “a cardinal.”

Webb County-Zapata County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said he is unaware of what prompted the FBI investigation. He said Cuellar is revered in the South Texas community and has proved to be accessible to local officials and community members.

Alaniz said he believes the timing of the FBI raid is “questionable” and worries it may adversely affect Cuellar’s reelection campaign.

“He’s done an excellent job in all the years of service when he was a state representative, and now as a United States congressman, and I myself continue to have the utmost respect for Congressman Cuellar,” Alaniz said. “The law is the law, however, and the law has to be respected. So you know, in time that’s what the court process is for. And the truth will eventually come out.”

This developing story will be updated.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/01/19/henry-cuellar-fbi/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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