Report: Democrat Texas Rep Indicted on Bribery Charges Spent Roughly Half of Campaign Funds on Legal Fees

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, walks to the House chamber to vote on Capitol Hill, Wednesday
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

A Democrat congressman accused of bribery spent roughly half of the money for his 2024 campaign on legal services, according to data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Out of the nearly $1.6 million of campaign funds that Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) spent, he reportedly spent around $784,900 on legal services, according to an analysis of FEC records, Open Secrets reported.

At the beginning of May, Cuellar and his wife, Imelda Rios Cuellar were indicted on bribery charges after they allegedly accepted almost $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities.

FEC records show the majority of the money Cuellar spent went to Clifford Chance LLP, an international law firm that is reportedly representing Cuellar. The law firm was given nearly $690,000 in payments, according to FEC records.

Perkins Coie LLP is another law firm that shows up on the FEC records, and which received more than $46,900. Perkins Coie LLP is a law firm that specializes in representing “corporations, trade associations, individuals, candidates, parties, political committees” and lobbyists, according to the law firm’s website.

Another law firm, Mololamken LLP also received payments from the Cuellar campaign.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a statement on May 3 announcing that Cuellar and his wife had been indicted after they had accepted $600,000 in bribes from an oil and gas company owned by the government of Azerbaijan and a bank which is headquartered in Mexico City, between December 2014 and November 2021.

In the statement, the DOJ explained:

The bribe payments were allegedly laundered, pursuant to sham consulting contracts, through a series of front companies and middlemen into shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar, who performed little to no legitimate work under the contracts.

The DOJ’s indictment of the Cuellar’s came two years after agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrived at the couple’s home and served them with a search warrant.

In January 2022, FBI agents not only searched Cuellar’s home, but searched another building where his campaign was headquartered.

A lawyer for Cuellar stated in April 2022, months after the FBI’s search, that Cuellar had not been the target of the FBI’s search.


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