A.C. Cuellar drops lawsuit against county commissioner

Former Hidalgo County Precinct 1 Commissioner  A.C. Cuellar agreed this month to walk away from his lawsuit against Commissioner David Fuentes, his successor, who he accused of using “secret cash” and “unreported money” to influence the 2016 Democratic Primary Election.

Cuellar also sued Fuentes’ uncle, Ezequiel “Zeke” Reyna, Jr., a politically influential Weslaco-based attorney, developer and owner of Tierra Santa Golf Club.

Daniel Koeneke and Edward Ciccone, attorneys representing Fuentes and Reyna, respectively, signed off on an agreement between their clients and Cuellar, who was represented by Cris Feldman in the lawsuit alleging the current commissioner did not report $95,700 in expenditures during his campaign.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Fuentes said, noting he remained focused on his duties as a commissioner despite the lawsuit against him, which was filed in October 2016, three months before he assumed office.

“We’ve always stayed focused on our work,” he said. “I’m going to keep doing that. Nothing for me really changes.”

The agreement was signed the week Fuentes’ attorney was set to depose several apparent witnesses in the case associated with Cuellar, including former Weslaco City Commissioner John Cuellar, his son Arturo Cuellar III and engineer Wesley Richard LeFevre.

Instead of proceeding with the depositions and the lawsuit, Cuellar agreed to drop the case against Fuentes.

In a court document filed by Mikal Watts, who represented Reyna, the attorney noted Cuellar was a “sore loser… who won’t accept the fact that he lost a lawful election, and only wants money (from) his opponent as a consolation prize.”

Fuentes nor Cuellar will have to pay each other as part of the agreement, which stated the lawsuit was “amicably” resolved.

In the March 2016 Democratic Primary, Fuentes, then a Weslaco ISD board member, ousted Cuellar, the incumbent, by 295 votes.

Cuellar then filed the lawsuit seven months later, accusing Fuentes of not disclosing an about $400,000 loan to himself for his campaign nor the use of Tierra Santa Golf Course for fundraisers.

“On the day and during early vote various private investigators were seen near polling sites working” for Fuentes, which were not disclosed in campaign finance reports, the lawsuit stated.

Fuentes, through court filings in the case, has denied those allegations.

“It was always just running a campaign and trying to put my qualifications (out in public) that I wanted to serve in this capacity,” Fuentes said, later adding: “All I can say is that, I put in my report what I thought was correct, and I’ll continue to move forward.”

Hidalgo County Elections Department records show Fuentes has kept up with filing campaign finance reports. Since launching his campaign in 2015, Fuentes has filed nine sets of campaign reports, detailing in hundreds of pages his campaign expenditures, loan amounts and in-kind contributions.

Cuellar and his attorney were not immediately available for comment.

“We agreed to both walk away from this,” Fuentes said.