The House Ethics Committee opens an investigation into the representative. Henri Cuéllar

WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday that it would open an investigation into the representative. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat recently indicted in a federal corruption case.

The panel said in a statement that it voted unanimously to form a subcommittee to investigate Cuellar after the Justice Department this month issued an indictment charging Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, of accepting $598,000 in bribes from foreign entities, including a Mexican bank and an Azerbaijani-controlled oil and gas company.

The subcommittee will have jurisdiction to investigate whether Cuellar “solicited or accepted bribes, gratuities or improper gifts; public statements filed with the House.

Before the charges came to light this month, Cuellar denied any wrongdoing and said he had “proactively sought legal advice” from the panel.

In a statement Wednesday, Cuellar reaffirmed his innocence.

“I respect the work of the House Ethics Committee,” Cuellar said. “As I said on May 3, I am innocent of these allegations, and everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas.”

In Wednesday’s statement, the Ethics Committee cited House rules that require it to create an investigative subcommittee or explain its decision not to do so within 30 days of indictment or the accusation of a member.

Speaker Michael Guest, R-Miss., and Rep. Glenn Ivey, D-Md., will serve as chairman and ranking member of the new subcommittee.

The federal indictment is poised to make Cuellar’s seat more vulnerable in November. Two years ago, he easily defeated his Republican opponent, Cassy Garcia.

This time around, Cuellar is expected to face retired Navy officer Jay Furman, who won Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff.

Cuellar and his wife are not the first congressional couple to face charges of alleged foreign bribery in the past year. The Justice Department hit the senator. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and his wife, Nadine Menendez, face 18 criminal charges related to bribery and corruption. They pleaded not guilty. Bob Menendez goes on trial.

Rebecca Kaplan reported from Washington, D.C., and Zoë Richards from New York.

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