How Henry Cuellar Used Campaign Cash To Fund a Private Plane

Texas Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar used campaign cash to funnel nearly $100,000 to a company he used to register a private plane, public records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show.

From 2004 to 2010, Cuellar's campaign paid more than $91,000 to H.C. Air, a now-defunct company Cuellar registered in 1997 using his campaign office address. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Cuellar owned a Piper PA-31-310 aircraft through the company. The twin-engined plane carries up to nine passengers and typically costs around $100,000.

In a 2007 financial disclosure, Cuellar identified H.C. Air as an "airplane rental" business valued at between $100,000 and $250,000. Outside of its partnership with Cuellar's own campaign, however, the company appears to have produced little revenue—Cuellar reported receiving just $2,500 to $5,000 in "S-corp income" from H.C. Air from 2007 to 2011. No other campaign used the company during that period, Federal Election Commission records show. Cuellar sold the plane in 2011 for up to $100,000.

Roughly a decade later, Cuellar is facing a difficult primary fight against progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros, who has portrayed Cuellar as corrupt and out of touch. Cuellar, who has represented Texas's 28th Congressional District since 2005, is implicated in an ongoing FBI probe into the former Soviet nation of Azerbaijan and "several U.S. businessmen," according to ABC News. FBI agents raided Cuellar's home and campaign office in late January.

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