Home US Disgraced GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry Resigns
US - March 26, 2022

Disgraced GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry Resigns

U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry resigned, effective March 31.

The Nebraska Republican was convicted on Thursday of three felonies, all related to an illegal $30,000 donation he received from a foreign national in 2016. He announced his resignation in a statement Saturday.

“Due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer effectively serve,” the statement read.

Each of the three felony charges ― one for scheming to accept the money, plus two more for making false statements to investigators ― carry a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

The donation, made by Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, was one of several donations he made to four different political candidates in U.S. elections in 2016. Chagoury funneled the $180,000 in funds through third-party “straw donors” to disguise their origin.

It’s illegal for foreign nationals to donate to federal political campaigns. For his part in the scheme, Chagoury accepted a deferred prosecution agreement with the federal government in 2019 and paid a $1.8 million fine.

Incredibly, this isn’t the first time Fortenberry has lied to law enforcement. In 2021, the Republican made false emergency calls to U.S. Capitol Police just to see how long it would take for officers to arrive.

The congressman has represented Nebraska’s heavily Republican 1st Congressional District since he won the seat in 2004.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) both urged Fortenberry to step down.

“Congressman Fortenberry’s conviction represents a breach of the public trust and confidence in his ability to serve,” Pelosi said in a statement Friday. “No one is above the law. Congressman Fortenberry must resign from the House.”

While the Constitution doesn’t bar felons from serving in Congress, most U.S. Representatives convicted of felonies resign rather than risk expulsion. According to The Associated Press, federal lawmakers convicted of felonies aren’t allowed to vote on legislation unless their constituents reelect them.

Congressman Fortenberry is scheduled to be sentenced June 28.

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