Jeff Fortenberry announces his resignation in court

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry announced his resignation from Congress on Saturday, two days after being convicted on charges of lying to the FBI about an illegal campaign donation by a foreign billionaire.

The Nebraska Republican made the announcement in a letter to his colleagues in the House of Representatives, saying he would step down effective March 31.

“It has been an honor to serve with you in the United States House of Representatives,” Fortenberry said. “Due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer serve effectively.”

The letter began with a poem called “Do it anyway,” which read, “What takes years to build someone can destroy overnight.” Build anyway.”

A California jury on Thursday found Fortenberry guilty of one count of falsifying and concealing material facts and two counts of making false testimonies.

The statements were made to federal agents who were questioning him about a $30,000 donation from Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury during the 2016 election cycle.

Fortenberry said in two interviews in Lincoln, Nebraska and Washington DC in 2019 that he was not aware of the donation. A man who ran a fundraiser for the congressman in 2016 told Fortenberry in a phone call that he was distributing the illegal donation through straw men, who could then write checks for his re-election campaign.

US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and his wife Celeste arrive at the Federal Courthouse for his trial.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry had been asked to resign by Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy.
Jae C Hong/AP

Chagoury was of Lebanese descent and had ties to the nonprofit In Defense of Christians, a group dedicated to combating religious persecution in the Middle East and supported by Fortenberry.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy both called on Fortenberry to resign following the conviction, which Fortenberry said he plans to appeal.

McCarthy said Friday he would speak to Fortenberry.

“I think he’s had his day in court and I think if he wants to appeal he can do that in private.”

Pelosi said in a statement that the conviction represented “a breach of public trust and confidence in his ability to serve.”

“No one is above the law,” she said.

Fortenberry, who has been in Congress since 2005, was facing re-election this year.

His sentencing is scheduled for June 28.

With postal wires Jeff Fortenberry announces his resignation in court


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