San Antonio state Senator Carlos Uresti—who was convicted of multiple fraud and money laundering counts in February—on Monday announced his resignation from office, effective Thursday. “I have been blessed to serve the great State of Texas for 22 years. I met with so many good people to do all I could to help make peoples’ lives better. With a heavy heart, I must now formally announce my resignation…,” Uresti tweeted on Monday morning.
In a show of defiance that has been characteristic of him since his federal trial, Uresti said in a separate statement that “some of the media has been unfair, inaccurate, or sensational when it has been hurtful, not necessary, or simply not true. Nonetheless, I know what I did and what I did not do.”
Uresti’s resignation leaves a vacant seat in the Texas Senate. According to Texas’s Election Code, the governor will call a special election to fill the vacancy, but that has not yet happened. In Uresti’s official resignation, he urged Governor Greg Abbott to hold the special election in conjunction with the November 2018 elections in order to save the counties and taxpayers thousands of dollars in costs. Since Uresti announced his resignation, several Texas politicians have expressed an interest in running for the vacant seat, which most likely will be won by a Democrat. Former U.S. representative Pete Gallego is said to be running, alongside state representative Roland Gutierrez, both Democrats. No Republican has yet announced for the seat.
Uresti’s surprise announcement comes months after his conviction on multiple counts of fraud and money laundering. Almost immediately, Democratic colleagues in the Senate called on Uresti to step down from his seat—a call he steadfastly refused to heed. He said then that he wanted the appellate process to be completed before he considered giving up his seat. But in early April Uresti’s request for a new trial was denied on the grounds that he was “subjectively aware of the illegal conduct,” and his sentencing was set for June 26. Beyond the social and political pressure from his colleagues, Uresti’s resignation from his position, rather than being forced to step down, could have an effect on the length of his sentence, which legal experts are predicting could be eight to twelve years in prison.
Monday’s announcement was the end to a storied political career that had Uresti in line to be the next president pro tempore of the Senate. Uresti served as a member of the House from 1997 to 2006, and he was elected to the Senate in 2006. During his time in office, Uresti built a reputation for advocacy on issues dealing with the safety and health of children, along with education and economic growth. In his letter of resignation, he mentions that he is most proud of his anti–child abuse legislation, along with the formation of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, which serves to advance and develop “community-based solutions for the problems of child abuse and neglect.” But alongside his commitment to the communities within District 19, his Senate district, Uresti was caught in a Ponzi scheme surrounding what was an oilfield services company called FourWinds Logistics. As a stake owner and general counsel for the company, Uresti was accused of earning commissions for recruiting investors, which he did fraudulently. He was found guilty of all eleven counts he was charged with, which included a range of charges surrounding fraud and money laundering.
Uresti is tentatively scheduled to be tried in October on bribery and money-laundering charges in connection with his role as a consultant for a company providing health care services to prison inmates in Reeves County.