Smear ads hit Henry Cuellar, Jessica Cisneros Democratic race


An advertising firm with ties to Cuellar is named as the buyer of a billboard ad in Laredo with an image of the 28-year-old immigration attorney with bold red and yellow text that says: “Jessica Cisneros is a home wrecker.”

Text messages have also been sent to voters in the district saying Cisneros has “no integrity knowingly sleeping with a married man” and urging those who received it to share it. It’s unclear who sent the text messages and the number that sent them appears to be disconnected.

Both the billboard and the texts appear to be in reference to a New York Post article from earlier this year that alleged Cisneros had an affair with her former high school teacher, who was 40 at the time, when she was an 18-year-old college student.

Cisneros called it “bullying.”

“My opponent and his supporters are so desperate to hold on to power that they have resorted to bullying me in hopes that they’ll be able to win,” she said. “I’m here to say that I will not be intimidated.”

Cuellar said in a statement that he does “not condone the billboard.”

“I’m running an issues based campaign focused on delivering for the people of South Texas,” he said.

It’s the latest turn in one of the most closely watched races in the nation as Cuellar, a 17-year incumbent, fights for his political life against Cisneros, a Laredo native who came just 1,005 votes shy of unseating Cuellar in the March primary.

Both candidates have raised and spent millions in the Democratic brawl as their campaigns and outside groups have blanketed South Texas airwaves with ads in recent weeks.

The billboard, on Del Mar Blvd in northeast Laredo, includes a line that it was “not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”

It says it was paid for by Big River Media. Federal elections records show Big River Media spent $5,263 on May 13 in support of Cuellar. It was the company’s only listed expenditure in federal records on Wednesday.

Cuellar’s campaign has hired Big River Media in the past. His campaign paid the firm $1,500 for advertising in 2020, during Cuellar’s last primary bout with Cisneros, records show. It was the only campaign disbursement to Big River Media listed in federal records as of Wednesday.

Webb County records show Big River Media is associated with Laredo real estate firm Killam Development. Its registered agent is David Killam, managing partner of Killam Companies. Killam and the real estate firm have donated thousands of dollars to Cuellar’s campaign this cycle.

Cuellar, meanwhile, has touted work the firm has done in the district. Earlier this month, he wrote a Facebook post about a 175-acre development “made possible in part by a $3 million grant I helped secure.”

“A big thank you to Killam Development and everyone else who is a part of this project,” Cuellar wrote in the post.

Killam did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The party’s biggest figures have gotten involved in the race.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week reiterated support for Cuellar, who she called “a valued member of our caucus.” Majority Whip James Clyburn campaigned for Cuellar in San Antonio earlier this month.

Cisneros, meanwhile, is backed by progressive former presidential candidates and U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and other members of The Squad, a left-wing group of House members that includes Ocasio-Cortez.

[email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *