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IRS, FBI raids office of state Sen. Carlos Uresti
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The San Antonio Democrat says he's cooperating with federal authorities on their investigation into an oilfield company he's been associated with.

AUSTIN – Federal authorities on Thursday morning raided the offices of a San Antonio state senator who has been associated with an oilfield fracking company tied to allegations of investor fraud, the FBI confirmed.

“Law enforcement officials with the IRS and the FBI are lawfully present and conducting a law enforcement operation at that office,” said Michelle Lee, a spokeswoman for the FBI region that stretches from Austin south to the Rio Grande Valley, referring to the law offices of Democratic state Sen. Carlos Uresti.

No one has been arrested in connection with the operation, Lee said. Uresti said in a statement he is cooperating with authorities.

Last year, the San Antonio Express-News reported that Uresti had a minor ownership role and served as a lawyer and an investment recruiter for the now-defunct oilfield services company, FourWinds. Three of the company’s senior officials have pleaded guilty to a felony charge of defrauding investors, the newspaper reported.

"Today, FBI agents are in my office, reviewing our documents as part of their broad investigation of the Four Winds matter,” Uresti’s statement said. “I have instructed my staff to fully cooperate with the federal investigators. I will help them in whatever way I can.”

The 53-year-old Uresti, who represents a swath of Texas that stretches from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso, was elected to the Senate in 2006. Before that, he served in the Texas House.

Uresti is not the only Texas lawmaker who has had a brush with law enforcement in recent months. In January, just after being sworn in for her 12th two-year term, Austin Democratic state Rep. Dawnna Dukes was indicted on 13 felony counts of tampering with state records and two misdemeanor charges of abuse of office.

The charges stem from allegations that she falsified travel vouchers showing she was due cash reimbursement from the state and that she used campaign funds for personal use. Dukes has said she is innocent of any wrongdoing and reversed the pledge she made last year that she would resign her seat.

Also, state Rep. Ron Reynolds, a four-term Houston Democrat, was convicted last year of five misdemeanor counts of illegally soliciting clients for his law practice. His license to practice law was suspended.

The misfortune of those Democratic lawmakers gave Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Mechler an opening to rub it in on the party that holds no statewide elective offices and is widely out-numbered in both legislative chambers.

“The cascade of these issues prove that Texas Democrats only care about power, as opposed to the constituents they’re supposed to be representing,” Mechler said. “I’d be quite nervous about the quality of candidates the Texas Democrats intend to field in 2018 right about now if I were them.”

Uresti was at the Capitol for a time Thursday morning but was not available once word of the federal law enforcement began spreading at midmorning. His brother, Tomas Uresti, a Democrat who began his first term as a state House member in January, said he had not spoken with the senator by the time the House floor session ended around 11 a.m.

“I only heard about it on the radio driving in,” Tomas Uresti said. “That’s really all I know, but I think he’ll be fine.”

John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin.

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