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Joe Biden Isn’t Stepping Down

GOP Congressman Convicted of Lying to FBI Resigns from Congress

AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

On Saturday, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) announced that he was retiring from Congress, effective March 31. He had been convicted on Thursday of three felonies, including lying to the FBI about illegal campaign donations. A report from The Washington Post cited a letter to his House colleagues as the date given, which falls on a Thursday.


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

According to the report from WaPost:

Fortenberry’s charges stem from a 2016 fundraiser held in Glendale, Calif., for the congressman’s reelection. There, Fortenberry received donations totaling $30,200 from Gilbert Chagoury, a wealthy Nigerian business executive of Lebanese descent who used other people as conduits to make the contributions, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California announced in October.

Foreign nationals are prohibited from donating to candidates running for federal office in the United States. It is also illegal to disguise a donor’s identity through third-party contributions.

Fortenberry was convicted of one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Each of the counts carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. Felons are eligible to run for and serve in Congress.

While the report mentions that Fortenberry would still be able to serve as a felon, he was facing calls to resign from top Republicans, including Gov. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Leader McCarthy had told reporters on Friday that he texted Fortenberry and had also planned to discuss it with him that day. "I want to discuss with him today, I think he had his day in court and I think if he wants to appeal, he can go do that as a private citizen," McCarthy said. "I think, out of respect, you can let me talk to him today, but I think when someone's convicted, it's time to resign."


Fortenberry has maintained his innocents and the difficulty of getting a fair trial. He will appeal.

Fortenberry has been serving as the representative for the 1st district of Nebraska since 2005, a district that has been represented by a Republican since 1967. After redistricting, it went from a R+21 lean to a R+17 lean. Balltopedia notes that Fortenberry already had four primary challengers before announcing his resignation. State Sen. Mike Flood is considered a front-runner.  


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