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Growing Trend of U.S. Politicians Co-opted by Foreign Governments

Representative Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, was recently implicated for accepting a $600,000 bribe from an oil company in Azerbaijan. He is being charged with working as an agent for a foreign entity while a U.S. government official because he lobbied Congress on the company’s behalf. The bribe was tied to a money laundering scheme that cycled through a bank in Mexico. Cuellar is also being accused of attempting to weaken US money laundering rules, particularly those that would hurt Mexican banks. Frighteningly, Cuellar is the leading Democrat on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

Cuellar being coopted by foreign forces is a serious national security concern. Sadly, this is just the most recent case of a foreign entity or foreign government buying influence with elected officials in the US.

Last year, Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, along with his wife, was charged with accepting bribes from corporations in Egypt.

In 2013, the government-owned State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) provided $750,000 for 10 members of Congress and 32 staffers to go on a junket to Baku, the country’s capital. In addition to the all-expense-paid luxury trip, the invitees also received thousands of dollars in gifts. Among the beneficiaries of Baku’s largesse were three former top aides to President Obama.

Apart from the obvious violation of ethics and the public trust, there was a national security angle to this trip as well. At that time, SOCAR was partnered with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), and they needed the US to provide exemptions from US sanctions against Iran.


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