US congressman steps down after conviction for lying to FBI
Nebraska Republican Jeff Fortenberry resigned over pressure for misleading the FBI about an illegal campaign donation.
Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry has stepped down after being convicted by a California jury of lying to and misleading the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign billionaire.
In his letter to the House, the nine-term Republican Fortenberry wrote on Saturday, “It has been my honor to serve with you in the United States House of Representatives,” adding, “Due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer effectively serve.”
Political leaders in Nebraska and Washington, namely Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, all put pressure Friday on Fortenberry to resign. Also, Nebraska’s Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, said that Fortenberry must “do the right thing for his constituents” and resign after being in office since 2005.
Fortenberry was accused in October of lying in two interviews to FBI agents about knowing of a foreign billionaire's illegal $30,000 contribution to his campaign.
The prosecutors submitted recorded phone calls in which Fortenberry was warned several times about the donations coming from a Nigerian billionaire of Lebanese descent, Gilbert Chagoury, and being funneled through three strawmen at a 2016 fundraiser in Los Angeles.
More about Chagoury
According to The Washington Post, Chagoury was accused of making illegal campaign donations to four American candidates, including Fortenberry, amounting to up to $180,000.
As per officials, one of his associates gave $30,000 to “an individual at a restaurant in Los Angeles, who, along with others, later made campaign contributions” to Fortenberry’s campaign.
federal prosecutors said that Chagoury tried to funnel money to “politicians from less-populous states because the contribution would be more noticeable to the politician and thereby would promote increased donor access."