Why Are So Many Lawmakers Under Fed Probe?

Written By BlabberBuzz | Wednesday, 26 January 2022 14:50
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An increasing number of House lawmakers are the target of federal investigations.

The irrelevant investigations concern both Republicans and Democrats. And along with any legal moves by federal enforcement, the cases may leave some of the members vulnerable in their primary elections this year. In two of three known cases, the districts could flip party control. That's remarkable in a political environment in which House Republicans need to earn only five seats in the 435-seat chamber to win back a majority since losing it in the 2018 midterm elections.

Last week, the FBI raided both Rep. Henry Cuellar's home and campaign office amid a federal investigation into the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan and a group of U.S. businessmen with links to the country.

It was not clear if Cuellar was a target of the probe. A Cuellar spokesperson said last week that the congressman "will fully cooperate in any investigation. He is committed to ensuring that justice and the law are upheld."

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The Texas Democrat has been a House member since 2005, and he was recently a co-chairman of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus.

Cuellar is a more centrist Democrat than many in his party and represents a border-area district. He has sometimes bucked his party on issues such as gun rights and faces a primary challenge from the Left on March 1 from immigration attorney and progressive Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar has not been charged with a crime in the FBI's investigation, but some liberal activists told Buzzfeed that uncertainty shrouding Cuellar might help Cisneros.

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House Republicans also are seeking a new possibility to flip another Democratic-held district if Cuellar wins renomination and is the target of a federal investigation and the inquiry extends deep into the election year or if Cisneros knocks off Cuellar in the primary, making the Democratic standard-bearer a far-Left Democrat in the Rio Grande Valley region, where former President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans made significant gains in the 2020 elections.

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Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz faces a federal probe into whether he violated sex trafficking laws, had sex with a minor and paid her to travel with him, and blocked justice during the investigation. Gaetz has denied the claims and claimed he is the victim of an extortion plot.

An ex-girlfriend of Gaetz was granted immunity before her deposition to a federal grand jury probing the allegations.

Joel Greenberg, a former political ally of Gaetz, pleaded guilty to six federal charges last year, admitting to paying a minor for sex. Greenberg reportedly introduced Gaetz to the 17-year-old at the center of the allegations.

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