Rep. Fortenberry to step down following conviction for lying to FBI

Greg Nash

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) said Saturday he will resign from office after he was found guilty Thursday of three felonies for lying to the FBI about an illegal contribution made to his 2016 campaign.

Fortenberry said his last day in Congress will be on March 31, according to a letter he sent to his House colleagues that was obtained by The Hill.

“Due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer serve you effectively,” Fortenberry wrote in an email with the letter attached to it. “Please know that it has been the honor of my life to serve you. Goodbye my friends.”

Fortenberry was found guilty on one count of falsifying and concealing material facts and two counts of making false statements.

The congressman faces up to five years in prison and fines for each of the three counts he was found guilty of.

He was convicted of lying to the FBI when it interviewed Fortenberry about a $30,200 donation authorities say was made to his campaign by a Nigerian businessman at a 2016 California fundraising event.

Federal law prohibits contributions and donations from foreign nationals to any local, state or federally elected official.

Following his conviction, Fortenberry faced calls to step down from both House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“He had his day in court,” McCarthy said at a press conference in Florida on Friday. ” I think if he wants to appeal, he can go do that as a private citizen.”

Fortenberry has said he plans to appeal and denied the charges against him.

“Do you think he would put his reputation on the line for $30,000 when he had $1.5 million?” said his defense attorney, John Littrell, per The Associated Press.

The Nebraska congressman previously stepped down from committee assignments in October following his indictment. Fortenberry, a nine-term congressman, had been running for re-election in the upcoming midterms.

In his Saturday letter, Fortenberry shared a poem with his congressional colleagues and said it was his “pleasure to call many of you friends.”

“When I first ran for Congress, I said that I would focus on our national security, economic security, and family security,” he wrote in the email. “It is my sincerest hope that I have made a contribution to the betterment of America, and the wellbeing of our great state of Nebraska.”

— Updated at 7:04 p.m.

Tags House of Representatives Jeff Fortenberry Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi Resignation
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