EXCLUSIVE: AOC-backed candidate facing run-off with Texas congressman Henry Cuellar had steamy fling with her high school teacher 23 years her senior, texts reveal, as his ex claims politician broke up her marriage
- Jessica Cisneros, 28, had a long-term affair with her former high school teacher John Balli, 51
- Cisneros is running for a seat in Congress against incumbent Henry Cuellar —and has the backing of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- DailyMail.com obtained 2011 texts between the two, including one professing her love when she was 18 and he was 41, calling him ‘babe’
- The ultra-liberal would-be Congresswoman began sleeping with him after he started dating his future second wife Sandra Ramirez in May 2011
- But the secret lovers had a painful split when Balli and Ramirez wed in July 2014
- That marriage ended in divorce in October last year — and Ramirez, 49, is telling friends it was Cisneros who helped destroy her marriage
- Ramirez told a close friend: ‘I hate Jessica Cisneros. She was responsible for the break-up of my marriage. She could never look me in the eye’
The 28-year-old AOC-backed candidate facing a run-off against centrist Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar had a long-term affair with her former high school teacher, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
Jessica Cisneros was in a sexual relationship with educator-turned-lawyer John Balli, now 51, and called him ‘babe’ in a 2011 text professing her love when she was 18 — and he was 41.
The ultra-liberal would-be Congresswoman began a sexual relationship with him after he began dating his future second wife Sandra Ramirez in May 2011. But the secret lovers had a painful split when Balli and Ramirez wed in July 2014.
However that marriage ended in divorce in October last year — and Ramirez, 49, is now slamming Cisneros for helping to destroy it.
She believes the congressional hopeful and Balli rekindled their affair in 2019 when the ex-teacher nominated his former student for her first shot at running against Cuellar in the 2020 Democratic primary for Texas’ 28th district.
Jessica Cisneros had a long-term affair with her former high school teacher John Balli, who is now a lawyer. His ex-wife Sandra Ramirez is pictured left, Cisneros is center and Balli is right
Cisnero is running for a seat in Congress and has the backing of AOC. Conservative Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar narrowly edged out over progressive challenger Cisneros in the Texas primary, and the pair will now go head-to-head in a run-off election in May
In a text seen by DailyMail.com, an 18-year-old Cisneros writes on October 26, 2011: ‘I love you so, so, so, so, so, so much, baby! ‘You make me incredibly happy, like you have no idea. Whenever I’m with you or talk to you, I just don’t want to stop; I don’t want to sleep…you make me feel so loved, so wanted…’
Ramirez claimed adultery in her divorce petition obtained by DailyMail.com. However, it does not name any woman and her ex-husband denied the allegation in his formal response, court papers show.
Cisneros began sleeping with Balli (pictured) after he started dating his future second wife Sandra Ramirez in May 2011
But she told a close friend: ‘I hate Jessica Cisneros. She was responsible for the break-up of my marriage. She could never look me in the eye.
‘How can she say she’s is fighting for women’s rights, including being pro-abortion, when she betrayed another woman. How can she do that?
‘It was an insane relationship because he was her teacher. She is much younger, 23 years.’
Ramirez also told the friend she suspected her ex husband and Cisneros were still seeing each other.
Ramirez was contacted by DailyMail.com regarding her marriage split, but she would not elaborate on the claims.
DailyMail.com’s exclusive revelations follow Cisneros forcing Cuellar, 66, into a May run-off for the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 28th district, which spans an area from San Antonio to her home city of Laredo.
She trailed by just 767 votes in the March 1 primary in her second bid to oust one of the anti-abortion congressman who is most conservative Democrats in the House.
Cuellar, 66, who is running for his 10th term in Congress, has been mired in his own scandal. The FBI raided his home and campaign office in January as part of an investigation into ties with the autocratic leader of the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.
Cisneros, a human rights lawyer born to hard-working Mexican parents Jose and Ramona, is backed by far-left Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who flew down to Texas to endorse her campaign. And she would be a potential recruit to join AOC in the progressive ‘Squad’ if elected.
She once worked as an intern in Cuellar’s office. Now, er campaign message plastered on billboards around Laredo is: ‘Give me the opportunity and I will respond with actions not words.’
But her strong Christian beliefs sit in stark contrast with her secret affair, which Ramirez eventually discovered.
In one 2014 text, Cisneros told Balli he gave her his cold. In another she called him ‘cutie’ and signed off with ‘love you’
In one text, Cisneros wrote the dates of their relationship as 9/10/11-9/10/14 and wrote ‘Happy 3!’
Cisneros received a heartbreaking texts from Balli saying ‘I love you. But I’m not sure this is working’
Balli taught Cisneros computer science at Early College High School in Laredo and helped her through her application to the University of Texas for her undergraduate degree.
She was studying there in 2011 when she sent him a text on September 23 saying: ‘Babe. I’m waiting for my bio class to start….And you know, I have come across the realization of something extremely strange. I love you.’
Cisneros sent the message when she was 18, while the Texas age of consent is 17. It was four months after Balli and Ramirez had started a relationship following their introduction in an online dating site.
In a further text, also seen by DailyMail.com, an 18-year-old Cisneros writes on October 26, 2011: ‘I love you so, so, so, so, so, so much, baby!
‘You make me incredibly happy, like you have no idea. Whenever I’m with you or talk to you, I just don’t want to stop; I don’t want to sleep…you make me feel so loved, so wanted…
‘We equal INFINITY sweetheart!… I honestly cannot describe how great I feel know that you love me back. It’s the best feeling in the world.
‘Want to know what the next best feeling in the world is? Being in your arms! Hearing your breath going in and out of your body. Listening to your heart beating against your chest. Taking in your scent. Seeing your intoxicating smile that melts me to my core….reaffirming that I am yours and you are mine forever.’
In a flurry of emails in June 2015, also seen by DailyMail.com, Cisneros pours out her heart over an eventual break-up with her lover. It is not clear exactly when they split
Balli and Ramirez wed on July 17, 2014, after he turned from teaching to a new career as a lawyer which saw him work for a time in the public defender’s office in Laredo.
And in a flurry of emails a year later, also seen by DailyMail.com, Cisneros pours out her heart over an eventual break-up with her lover. It is not clear exactly when they split.
On Tuesday June 16, 2015 at 3.53pm, then-22-year-old Cisneros wrote: ‘After I hung up, I cried and cried and cried some more.
‘I started looking at the videos and pictures from Saturday a week or so ago. It really does hurt that you’re not mine any more. But I realized that what made me sad the most was that I was not going to have you as my best friend. That’s something I absolutely can’t give up.
‘Our relationship has ended badly and it will take time for me to get over the fact that you’re not my baby anymore and are someone else’s…I decided to play with fire and now I’m finally burning.
‘However, I love you as a person so much and our friendship does not have to end. I don’t want it to. You’ve been such a part of my life for the past 7 years, John. There is absolutely no one that understands my humor and gives me advice like you do. That’s what makes me cry and hurt the most…
‘Last night, I kept thinking about times that you’ve made me so happy and it’s things that don’t involve romance (although those did make me really happy as well, I won’t lie about that).
‘Like I said, it’ll take time getting used to and to move on from you. I’ll need to know the complete truth otherwise I’ll keep torturing myself with questions, but I know I’m a very strong woman and I know that the best days of my life have not happened yet.
‘I know that I’ll find someone else that will be just as perfect as you except he’ll be close to my age and I won’t have to worry about what people think…’
Her campaign message plastered on billboards around Laredo is: ‘Give me the opportunity and I will respond with actions not words’
Cisneros even has the backing of Elizabeth Warren. She has run a campaign with an image as a strident social justice advocate with strong Christian beliefs
She continued: ‘I’ll miss staying over at your apartment and laying down listening to music. I’ll miss you spoiling me. I’ll miss having you sit next to me at a booth in a restaurant. I’ll miss you making love to me.
‘I’ll miss your kisses, cuddles and snores. I’ll miss your baby talk and you telling me you love me to the moon and back and to the ranch times ten…
‘You were my first and my one and only, John. I’ll miss thinking I’m your one and only too. I find comfort (and anger) knowing that if it weren’t for this age difference, we could have been each other’s last.
‘Just like you loved me unconditionally, I continue to love you too.’
Referring to Ramirez as ‘that woman’, she added: ‘I sincerely only want your happiness and if that woman is making you happy although it hurts and makes me jealous out of my mind, it makes me happy at the same time too.
‘I hope she treats you the way you deserve. I hope she spoils you with her cooking and back massages and indulges in stimulating conversations that I know you love too…
‘Mourning the loss of John my baby is pain enough but please, please don’t let me lose John my bestest friend. I know I won’t be able to bear that.’
Balli, aged 44 at the time of the exchange, replied in an email, saying: ‘Time is what I need. I too am in mourning.. and have been for about a year. I really don’t want too much as things are raw for me.
‘Time will tell how things work between us.’
Cisneros responded: ‘Fine, we don’t have to discuss this right now. But don’t cut me off.’
Balli’s ex-wife Ramirez, who runs a barbershop in Laredo, believes he and Cisneros rekindled their relationship when he helped the budding politician during her failed campaign to win the Democratic nomination for the Congressional seat in 2020.
Balli’s ex-wife Ramirez, who runs a barbershop in Laredo, believes he and Cisneros rekindled their relationship when he helped the budding politician during her failed campaign to win the Democratic nomination for the Congressional seat in 2020
The former teacher got involved in local politics and nominated his ex-pupil as a candidate in 2019. In a gushing nomination speech at a local event he told the audience: ‘We know how great she is… we know she is a woman of faith.’
Ramirez, who had supported her husband financially when he retrained as a lawyer, was then drawn into the publicity machine for the Cisneros 2020 bid ◊ which included using her apartment as a base for the team.
But the nomination, specifically designed to have an AOC-aligned candidate to run against Cuellar, brought tension into the marriage as the campaign progressed.
Cisneros would ring up Balli in the middle of the night, explaining the calls to his wife as supporting his candidate.
Ramirez — who immigrated from Mexico — confided to her friend that Balli asked her for a divorce immediately after the failed campaign, which further raised her suspicions. However, the couple eventually stuck it out for longer.
Cisneros is trying to unseat nine-term Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar
The friend told DailyMail.com that Balli was infuriated that his then-wife had not shared his enthusiasm for Cisneros being around.
They said: ‘She accused him of being in love with Jessica, but John claimed she was insane.
‘She told me, I’m not wrong. I can see it. I’m a woman, I know. I’m upset, but I’m not stupid.’
Ramirez finally decided to start divorce proceedings against Balli in May last year after they had a dramatic confrontation. The final decree was granted in October on grounds of insupportability. Balli denied adultery in his legal response to the petition.
Shortly before that Ramirez also decided to confront Cisneros, by sending her a message.
Referring to Balli, she wrote on July 17, 2021, her wedding anniversary: ‘I think this was mine, now it’s yours. You can keep it. He is available…’ Cisneros did not reply.
DailyMail.com attempted to obtain a comment from Balli at his home and law office in Laredo. He refused and asked us to leave.
At a building associated with the Cisneros family in the city, festooned with election posters, the would-be politician’s mother Ramona said she would pass on our request to speak to her daughter. We also contacted her campaign but neither Cisneros nor her camp responded.