Congressman Jeff Fortenberry Indicted to “Falsify and Conceal”
Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was indicted for allegedly making false statements to investigators looking into illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.
A federal grand jury indicted him on one count of “scheming to falsify and conceal material facts” and, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, two counts of “making false statements to federal investigators looking into illegal contributions.”
From 2012 to 2016, Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury made illegal contributions to the campaigns of several congressional Republicans, including Jeff Fortenberry. It is illegal for foreign nationals to make contributions to US election campaigns. The $180,000 in illegal contributions, including $30,200 to Mr. Fortenberry, were funneled through a group of individuals from California in 2016.
The congressman said he didn’t know he got contributions from California donors after a LA fundraiser by Chagoury and refused any wrongdoing.
According to prosecutors, a person who is identified as “Individual H” hosted the LA fundraiser and started cooperation with federal authorities in 2016. Fortenberry asked “Individual H” to host another fundraiser in 2018.
Despite “Individual H” repeatedly saying Chagoury associate Toufic Joseph Baaklini had provided $30,000 in cash to route to Jeff for the 2016 fundraiser and that it probably came from Chagoury, Jeff did not file an amended report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The indictment alleges Jeff Fortenberry “knowingly and willfully falsified, concealed, and covered up by trick, scheme, and device material facts” instead.
Especially, Mr. Fortenberry, 60, was not aware of Baaklini being involved in the illegal contributions, nor any contributions to his campaign from a foreign national, he claimed on March 23, 2019.
It also alleges Jeff told investigators that he ended his 2018 call with “Individual H” after the person made a “concerning comment” but in actuality continued to ask “Individual H” to hold another fundraiser.
Jeff Fortenberry Indicted Over Lying to FBI
On Tuesday, October 19, congressman Jeff Fortenberry said he feels “personally betrayed” by the charges and allegations after he was indicted.
Jeff Fortenberry said in the video filmed from his car, with his wife Celeste Fortenberry sitting beside him: “We will fight these charges. I did not lie to them. This is wrong on so many levels.”
In a message to supporters, his wife said the charges have “all the marks of being a political attack, a bogus charge manufactured to take him out.”
He has represented Nebraska’s First Congressional District since 2005.
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Reactions to Jeff Fortenberry’s Charge
Many people reacted and shared their ideas on social media websites following this shocking news. One wrote: “If you’ve never heard of Jeff Fortenberry, Expect to see many, many, many Republican tweets about how innocent he is Also, in a few hours, he will be elevated to hero status in MAGA world.”
An online user wrote: “I once met @JeffFortenberry when I was in 5th grade. The nuns in Catholic school treated him like a king. Even then, I thought he was a gigantic tool. I wonder what they think now. Fraud is fraud, Jeff. I hope your children know how much of a loser you are.”
Another tweeted: “You need to #resign. What a disgrace to Nebraska. Taking money from Foreign interests. That’s a Felony Jeff.”