- GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry has been indicted on charges of lying to the FBI.
- Fortenberry said in a YouTube video that he expects to be charged with lying to the FBI.
- Fortenberry’s office sent out a fundraising message for a legal defense fund earlier this month.
A federal grand jury has indicted Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska on charges of lying to the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles announced Tuesday.
The grand jury indictment charges Fortenberry with one count of “scheming to falsify and conceal material facts” and two counts of making false statements to investigators in connection with an FBI investigation into potential campaign finance violations.
Fortenberry announced in a YouTube video Tuesday morning that he expected to be indicted on a charge of lying to the FBI.
He said investigators “accused me of lying and are charging me with this.” Fortenberry added that he will “fight” the charges and said he did not lie to authorities.
Axios first reported the news.
Fortenberry is one of several lawmakers who investigators said received illegal campaign contributions from the Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, in violation of federal laws banning foreign nationals from donating to political candidates.
Fortenberry addressed the matter on October 5, one day after he sent out the fundraising email about the FBI investigation.
“A number of years ago, some very bad people illegally transferred money into my campaign, along with several other members of Congress,” Fortenberry said at an event for the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce in Nebraska. “They were caught, they were punished and they’ve been held accountable, thankfully.”
According to an FBI affidavit filed earlier this year, the donations went to Fortenberry’s campaign in March 2016.
In Tuesday’s YouTube video, Fortenberry said that FBI agents from California showed up at his house about two and a half years ago and questioned him about the matter.
“I answered their questions. Later, we went back and answered further questions,” Fortenberry said. “I told them what I knew and what I understood. They’ve accused me of lying to them and are charging me with this. We’re shocked. We’re stunned. I feel so personally betrayed. We thought we were trying to help and so now we will have to fight.”
The lawmaker’s announcement comes after his office blasted out a fundraising message earlier this month accusing the FBI of using its “unlimited power to prosecute me on a bogus charge!”
When Insider reached out to Fortenberry’s office about the email, a spokesperson offered the following comment: “It’s been previously reported that the FBI investigated an effort by a foreign national to illegally funnel money to U.S. political campaigns, including Rep. Fortenberry’s. The people involved in that scheme were prosecuted and no charges were filed against him. This legal expense trust was established in part to address costs associated with that investigation.”
When asked why the fundraising email was written in the present tense if no charges were filed or were expected to be filed against the congressman, the spokesperson responded: “Rep. Fortenberry never saw or approved that language.”
“To be accused of this is extremely painful,” Fortenberry said in his YouTube video. “We will fight these charges. I did not lie to them. I told them what I knew.”
Watch Fortenberry’s video below:
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