- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 26, 2022

U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry announced he’ll resign from Congress following his conviction this week on federal charges that he lied to the FBI.

Mr. Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican elected to the House in 2004, said in a “goodbye” statement Saturday to his supporters that he would resign his seat “shortly,” and cited “the difficulty of my current circumstances.”

A federal jury Thursday found Mr. Fortenberry, 61, guilty of lying to the FBI about campaign donations from a foreign national. Mr. Fortenberry, who had planned to run for re-election, was convicted of three felonies. He faces up to five years in prison on each count. 

Mr. Fortenberry was under pressure from GOP leaders to step down.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, told reporters Friday Mr. Fortenberry should leave Congress and planned to call him later that day. 

“When someone is convicted, it’s time to resign,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, also called on Mr. Fortenberry to resign. 

Mr. Fortenberry’s district is solidly Republican and the vacancy must be filled in a special election. 

The FBI said Mr. Fortenberry lied to them during two interviews with agents investigating illegal donations from a foreign billionaire in 2016. 

“After learning of illegal contributions to his campaign, the congressman repeatedly chose to conceal the violations of federal law to protect his job, his reputation and his close associates,” U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison, said.  “The lies in this case threatened the integrity of the American electoral system and were designed to prevent investigators from learning the true source of campaign funds.”

Mr. Fortenberry claims he did not intentionally mislead the FBI and was unaware of the illegal contributions due to spotty cell phone reception with an FBI informant who connected him with a Nigerian billionaire who funneled $30,000 into his campaign.  

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

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