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Jessica Cisneros

Jessica Cisneros, U.S. House candidate in Texas' 28th Congressional District, sits for an interview in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2019. (Photo: Thomas McKinless/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images).

'Getting A Lot of New Followers,' Says Cisneros After Cuellar FBI Raid

FBI agents appeared to launch an investigation at Rep. Henry Cuellar's home hours after Democratic leader Steny Hoyer endorsed the congressman.

Julia Conley

Hours after U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer announced his endorsement of right-wing Rep. Henry Cuellar ahead of the Democratic primary in Texas' 28th district, the FBI conducted what appeared to be a raid at the congressman's home and campaign office late Wednesday—resulting in what could be a boost to Cuellar's progressive opponent.

Jessica Cisneros, an immigration and human rights attorney, welcomed a slew of new followers on social media following reports that Cuellar was under investigation.

"Been getting a lot of new followers tonight!" tweeted Cisneros, who is running for a second time against 15-year incumbent Cuellar after coming within three percentage points of unseating him in 2020. "I'm running for Congress because South Texas deserves a representative who will fight for our dreams as hard as we do."

Valerie Gonzalez of The Monitor, a local outlet in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, reported late Wednesday that several FBI agents had arrived at Cuellar's home in Laredo. The agents took photos of vehicles at the house and "loaded large bags, plastic bins, and a computer into a federal vehicle" while others appeared to be logging the items.

Later, Gonzalez reported that agents had also visited a building in downtown Laredo which houses Cuellar's campaign office.

An FBI spokesperson acknowledged that agents were "conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity" but did not release more details, while Cuellar said he plans to "fully cooperate in any investigation."

"Henry Cuellar is one of the worst Democrats in Congress. Fortunately, Jessica Cisneros is an amazing candidate for his seat."

Colin Strother, a political strategist with Cuellar's campaign, deactivated his Twitter account shortly after the raid was reported.

On Thursday, Cisneros expanded on her earlier tweet, saying her campaign team is "closely watching as this develops" and is "focused on our campaign to deliver change to South Texas families."

Cisneros first challenged Cuellar in the 2020 election, pledging to represent working families' interests and running a campaign fueled by grassroots support and the labor movement.

The 28-year-old supports Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people, and a repeal of "disastrous" anti-immigration laws like former President Bill Clinton's Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

Cisneros' platform starkly contrasts with Cuellar's history of voting for legislation pushed by former President Donald Trump, including Trump's border wall and an extension of the amount of time immigrant children could be held in detention. Cuellar is also anti-choice, was the only Democrat in the House to vote against the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and is a top recipient of campaign funding from the fossil fuel and private prison industries.

Despite Cuellar's anti-Democratic policy stances, Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday applauded the congressman's efforts on behalf of "working families." In 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vehemently supported Cuellar, saying she hoped for "not only a victory, but a resounding victory" against Cisneros.

Pelosi has not yet announced her endorsement in the primary, which will be held March 1.

Following the news of the FBI investigation at Cuellar's home and offices, progressives urged voters to back Cisneros.

"Henry Cuellar is one of the worst Democrats in Congress. Fortunately, Jessica Cisneros is an amazing candidate for his seat," said Max Berger of More Perfect Union. "She's a working class hero who has spent her life fighting for her family and community."

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