#ExpelCuellar: ANCA Calls for Expulsion of Rep. Cuellar from Congress

Democratic Congressman Indicted for Accepting $598,000 in Azerbaijani Bribes

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today called on the U.S. House to immediately expel Henry Cuellar (D-TX) over his indictment for accepting nearly six hundred thousand dollars in Azerbaijani bribes. The indictment, only recently unsealed, presents detailed accusations that Rep. Cuellar, who serves as co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, accepted substantial payments from Azerbaijani state-controlled entities in return for advancing pro-Azerbaijan legislation.

“We call on the U.S. House to immediately vote to expel Henry Cuellar, condemn Azerbaijan’s brazen interference in our American democracy, and enact statutory measures to prevent ongoing attempts by Azerbaijan’s corrupt Aliyev family to rig U.S. foreign policy in its favor,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We have, for more than a decade now, fought Henry Cuellar at the ballot box and battled his genocide-enabling legislation on Capitol Hill – always shining a national spotlight on this foreign breach of the American public trust. By all accounts, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

According to the federal indictment, unsealed earlier today, Rep. Cuellar and his wife are accused of receiving over $598,000 from an Azerbaijani state-owned oil company and other foreign entities in exchange for advancing Azerbaijani interests within the U.S. Congress.

The indictment explicitly states that “With respect to Azerbaijan, in exchange for the bribe payments, Henry Cuellar promised to influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan. Henry Cuellar agreed, among other things, to influence a series of legislative measures relating to Azerbaijan’s conflict with neighboring Armenia; to insert language favored by Azerbaijan into legislation and committee reports governing certain security and economic aid programs; to deliver a pro-Azerbaijan speech on the floor of the House of Representatives; and to consult with representatives of Azerbaijan regarding their efforts to lobby the United States government.”

In January 2013, Rep. Cuellar went on a trip to Turkey and Azerbaijan, facilitated by Azerbaijani connections, where he engaged with high-ranking Azerbaijani officials and business leaders. That trip, which was reported to cost close to $20,000, was covered by the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians, chaired by Kemal Oksuz, who was subsequently convicted for concealing the fact that other trips to Azerbaijan, organized by his group later that year, were actually paid for by SOCAR, the government-funded oil company of Azerbaijan. Rep. Cuellar’s trip laid the groundwork for subsequent corrupt dealings highlighted in the charges.

The communication exchanges between Rep. Cuellar and Azerbaijani officials revealed in today’s indictment paint a stark picture of collusion. In response to an Azerbaijani diplomat’s request for assistance with U.S. legislation, Cuellar indicated readiness to help, stating he would “try [his] best” to influence legislative outcomes favorably for Azerbaijan. This included efforts to modify legislative language in ways that supported Azerbaijan’s geopolitical interests over Armenia’s.

On multiple occasions, Cuellar communicated directly with Azerbaijani officials to discuss strategies for overriding Armenian interests in Congress. In one email, an Azerbaijani diplomat expressed gratitude, stating, “Thank you, Congressman! This is good indeed,” acknowledging Cuellar’s efforts to steer U.S. policy in Azerbaijan’s favor. Azerbaijani diplomats reportedly referred to Rep. Cuellar as “el Jefe” or “Boss” in text messages.

The indictment further uncovers how Rep. Cuellar agreed to insert pro-Azerbaijan speeches into Congressional records and to advance legislation that would undermine U.S. aid to Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh). In one email, Cuellar promised Azerbaijani contacts to “set up a meeting” with U.S. defense officials to discuss matters benefiting Azerbaijan, directly linking his legislative actions to the bribes received.

According to the Justice Department, Rep. Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, surrendered to authorities on Friday. After an initial appearance before a federal judge in Houston, they were released on $100,000 bond each.

Charges against Rep. Cuellar and his wife include bribery, conspiracy, acting as agents of foreign principals, and money laundering. If convicted, they can spend decades in prison and may need to forfeit property linked to proceeds from the alleged scheme.