State Sen. Carlos Uresti announced his resignation from the Senate today in letters posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, exactly one week before a federal judge is expected to sentence him on felony fraud and money laundering convictions.
Uresti, D-San Antonio, said in the letter his resignation would be effective Thursday.
“As you know, I am in the process of ensuring that justice is served,” Uresti, said in the letter posted just before noon. “These recent events have had a significant impact on my life, my family and my constituents. I need to attend to my personal matters and properly care for my family. Serving the people and children in our great State has been both an honor and a privilege.”
As The Texas Monitor reported, a federal jury in San Antonio convicted Uresti in February on 11 counts of money laundering and wire and securities fraud. He faces as many as 12 years in prison and millions of dollars in restitution. Uresti has given up his license to practice law in Texas, rather than face disciplinary action, according to the State Bar of Texas website. Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stripped Uresti of his committee assignments.
However, until today it was not known whether Uresti would exercise the legal option to continue to serve in the Senate, should he decide to appeal whatever sentencing is handed down.
Instead, Uresti asked that Gov. Greg Abbott approve adding replacement candidates for a special election to the Nov. 6 ballot, a move that would save taxpayers considerable money in avoiding a separate election.
State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, who, at the time of Uresti’s conviction, said it was time for his district to “move forward and turn the page,” formally announced his intention to run. Pete Gallego, the former U.S. and Texas House member, has also announced his candidacy.
Regardless of the length of the conviction, Texas taxpayers will be paying roughly $80,000 a year for Uresti’s government pension, based on his combined 22 years in the state House and Senate.
As The Texas Monitor reported, Uresti was arrested, charged and convicted for his role as general counsel and one percent ownership of FourWinds Logistics, an oilfield services company that court documents likened to a Ponzi scheme for investors.
The case centered on Uresti’s business relationship with Denise Cantu, his mistress, whose $900,000 investment was almost entirely wiped out.
A few months earlier, Uresti faced accusations that he was a serial sexual abuser of women throughout his career in the Legislature.
His legislative record was much less colorful. In 2015, Texas Monthly referred to him as “furniture,” suggesting his “level of participation in the legislative process was indistinguishable from that of their desks and chairs.” Not once did he make the magazine’s list of best or worst legislators.
In six sessions, Senate leadership never once made Uresti a chairman of a committee.
Henry Flores, a political science professor at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, who helped Uresti run his inaugural campaign for the House in 1997 told the San Antonio Express News “We teach them ethics here. It’s part of the curriculum, part of the core of the political-science major. So to see a former student go off the rails like this is a little bit disappointing.”
“To the extent that any of you feel I let you down,” Uresti wrote in his resignation letter, “please grant me forgiveness.”
Mark Lisheron can be reached at [email protected].