Texas Representative Henry Cuellar
Texas Representative Henry Cuellar Reuters

Texas Representative Henry Cuéllar rejected the possibility of resigning over his recent indictment, a result of allegations that he took bribes from Azerbaijan and a Mexican bank.

"No, no, no. Everybody is innocent until proven otherwise and we're going to continue doing our job," Cuéllar said at the Capitol when consulted by a reporter.

Cuéllar was indicted last Friday along with his wife. Both were accused of accepting over half a million dollars from an Azerbaijan-controlled energy company and Mexico's Banco Azteca between 2014 and 2021.

Cuéllar allegedly agreed to influence legislation favorable to the former Soviet republic and deliver a friendly speech on the House floor. He was at one point the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus and also traveled to the country in 2013. Two years later announced a research agreement between a Texas university and an organization called the Assembly of Friends of Azerbaijan.

Cuéllar is not planning to resign, but Punchbowl News reported this week that his chief of staff, Jake Hochberg, has already left the lawmaker's team. Several others are considering a similar move, the outlet added.

The lawmaker did step down his only committee assignment on the House Appropriations one while the case proceeds. "Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas," Cuéllar said in a statement shortly after his indictment became public.

"Before I took action, I proactively sought legal advice from the House Ethics Committee, who gave me more than one written opinion, along with an additional opinion from a national law firm. Furthermore, we requested a meeting with the Washington D.C. prosecutors to explain the facts and they refused to discuss the case with us or hear our side," the document adds.

Both Cuéllar and his wife Imelda were released on $100,000 bail each. Their trial is set to start this summer, but it could be delayed as a result of pre-trial legal disputes. The lawmaker is no stranger to controversy. He's seen among Democrats as a hardliner on immigration policy, considering he's been vocal at the time of supporting strong deportation measures. He also was on the national spotlight some months ago as he was robbed at gunpoint in Washington, D.C.

Cuéllar's situation bears a significant resemblance to that of fellow Democrat and Latino, Bob Menéndez, who, along with his wife, is accused of accepting bribes in the form of cash, gold bars, and even a luxury car. These were allegedly to aid and protect three local businessmen and to benefit the governments of Qatar and Egypt. They have also been accused of attempting to obstruct the investigation against them.

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