Fortenberry resigns two days after jury finds him guilty of lying to federal investigators

Jeff Fortenberry
Posted at 4:11 PM, Mar 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-26 17:11:18-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry announced his resignation on Saturday, stating that due to his conviction on three federal felonies “I can no longer serve you effectively.”

“I will resign from Congress shortly,” he said, in a three-paragraph statement.

The resignation announcement comes two days after a jury in Los Angeles found the 61-year-old Republican guilty of two counts of lying to federal investigators probing illegal “conduit” campaign contributions from a foreigner, and one count of trying to conceal that he had received $30,000 in those donations at a Los Angeles fundraiser in 2016.

Thanks for ‘entrusting me’

“Thank you for entrusting me with the great responsibility of governing our nation,” he stated in what he called “My Last Fort Report,” a reference to a weekly column he wrote to constituents.

“It is my sincerest hope that I have made a contribution to the betterment of America,” Fortenberry wrote.

A former Lincoln City Council member, Fortenberry was elected in 2004, emerging from a crowded field of GOP candidates seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Doug Bereuter, who was retiring.

Fortenberry was viewed as the most independent of Nebraska’s three Republican congressmen, but he didn’t stray far from the GOP line.

He was expected to easily win re-election in 2022 until last October, when he was indicted by a federal grand jury in California as part of an investigation into the political activities of a Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire, Gilbert Chagoury.

Others got rid of donations

Chagoury paid a $1.8 million fine and accepted responsibility for donating $180,000 to four U.S. politicians, including Mitt Romney and then U.S. Rep. Lee Terry.

But unlike the others, Fortenberry didn’t immediately give away the illicit money his campaign received from Chagoury through a group of Lebanese-Americans in L.A. Instead Fortenberry, in 2018, asked for a second fundraiser.

In 2019, during two interviews with federal agents, Fortenberry denied any knowledge of the illegal gifts, despite being told in a phone call — recorded by the FBI — a year earlier telling him at least three times that the donations were not legal. The two interviews prompted the indictments

Gov. Pete Ricketts, and the two top party leaders in the House, Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, all asked Fortenberry to resign on Friday.


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