Rep. Fortenberry raising money for legal defense

Posted at 6:05 PM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 19:05:09-04

WASHINGTON (KMTV) — A legal defense website set up by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s staff appears to signal an FBI investigation.

The web page, which was found and saved by political website Axios, says “Biden's FBI is using its unlimited power to prosecute me on a bogus charge.’” Axios reports that the post has since been deleted.

When asked what this refers to, a spokesperson for the eight-term congressman from Lincoln pointed to a previous and solved investigation.

“It’s been previously reported that the FBI investigated an effort by a foreign national to illegally funnel money to U.S. political campaigns, including Rep. Fortenberry’s. The people involved in that scheme were prosecuted and no charges were filed against him," said Chad Kolton, a Fortenberry spokesperson.

Fortenberry's team appears to be referring to the probe of Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, who paid millions earlier this year to resolve allegations of illegal campaign donations.

That investigation also included an associate Toufic Joseph Baaklini, who the FBI said gave out $30,000 at a Los Angeles restaurant in March 2016 and that money was later sent to a congressional campaign.

According to reports from the Federal Election Commission, about a week and a half later, Fortenberry received just over $30,000 in campaign donations from several people in California on a single day.

3 News Now has matched the dollar figures and names of those mentioned in the FBI affidavit, to reports from the Federal Election Commission.

Court documents do not allege Fortenberry knew any donations were coming from a foreign national.

Baaklini also has made his own donations to Fortenberry, sending him over $7,000 from 2015 to 2017.

Axios also reported that Fortenberry set up his legal defense fund in late August.

His spokesperson says “This legal expense trust was established in part to address costs associated with that investigation," said Kolton.

The spokesperson also says Fortenberry did not approve of the language used on the website that also said “Unlike Swamp Creature Nancy Pelosi, I’m a principled conservative who has NEVER abused my seat in Congress to get wealthy. And right now I'm facing the Deep State's bottomless pockets.”

FEC reports also show Fortenberry hired a California law firm, Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams, for $25,000 in June of this year.

Fortenberry is set to be in Lincoln Tuesday afternoon for an event with the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.

Federal law bans foreign-nationals to contribute to any candidate for office in the United States.

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