McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Six days after the FBI raided the home and office of South Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar, the nine-term Democrat spoke out in a video thanking supporters for “having his back” and said he has done nothing wrong.
His opponent on Tuesday called the FBI investigation into Cuellar “alarming” and rolled out her first TV commercial this campaign season criticizing Cuellar.
“I appreciate the many calls, texts, tweets and messages of support. The outpouring of support from so many in our community is humbling and I’d like to personally thank you for having my back,” Cuellar said in the one-minute and 28-second video that he Tweeted from his campaign page on Tuesday.
“As I said last week, I’m fully cooperating with law enforcement and committed to ensuring that justice and the law is upheld. There is an ongoing investigation that will show that there was no wrongdoing on my part,” he said.
Cuellar has not been charged with a crime and the FBI hasn’t said anything about the scope of its investigation into the congressman.
Cuellar is vice chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Homeland Security Committee, and represents Texas 28th Congressional District, which spans the border from his hometown of Laredo to Mission, in the Rio Grande Valley, to a sliver of San Antonio.
He is one of the most degreed members of Congress, having earned a master’s degree, doctorate, and a law degree.
“As an attorney, I know first-hand that the legal system is a pillar of our democracy. I pride myself in being your congressman and always doing things honestly, ethically and the right way,” Cuellar said.
But he also is noted as one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, and is criticized for his anti-abortion views.
His opponent, 28-year-old immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros, came close in the 2020 primary to taking the Democratic nomination. She is backed by the powerful progressive Justice Democrats pact, which have made this seat a priority to take away from Cuellar. She also has the endorsement of EMILY’s List; NARAL Pro-Choice America; Planned Parenthood Action Fund; and Progressive Democrats of America, as well as personal endorsements from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts.
In her first TV campaign ad released Tuesday, Cisneros accuses Cuellar of taking donations from big-dollar pharmacy and other donors.
“When my Tía Marta had cancer but no insurance, we did what many families do: We sold steak plates to pay for her care. But Henry Cuellar holds thousand-dollar a plate fundraisers, taking from the drug and insurance companies charging high prices or even denying us care,” Cisneros said in the 30-second spot that she also posted to her campaign’s Twitter page.
“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 wrote in a statement to media.
“Nothing can distract me from being laser-focused and getting the job done for you and for South Texas the way I always have,” Cuellar vowed in his video, which was shot in front of his meager childhood home in the Las Lomas neighborhood of Laredo.
Early voting begins Feb. 14. Election Day for the primaries is March 1.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.