Oct 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP congressman forfeits committee seats after indictment

close up image of man in suit speaking.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday stepped down from his committee assignments after being indicted for lying to federal investigators amid a probe into illegal campaign donations.

What they're saying: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry said he is "grateful for the outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues as we work against the injustice confronting me."

  • The nine-term congressman cited GOP conference rules that members indicted on felony charges that may result in two or more years in prison must step down from their committees.
  • Fortenberry stressed that the move is "temporary," and concluded his letter by stating, "I look forward to taking up these committee assignments again once this matter is resolved."
  • Fortenberry serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and is ranking member of an Appropriations subcommittee overseeing agriculture and rural development.

The big picture: A federal grand jury charged Fortenberry with making false statements to the FBI about his knowledge of illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire.

  • The Department of Justice said in a statement Fortenberry failed to report the contributions when he allegedly learned of them in 2018, and that he told investigators in 2019 he was not aware of the contributions.
  • Fortenberry denied the charge in a YouTube video reported by Axios' Lachlan Markay, in which he stated, "I did not lie to them" and vowed to "fight these charges."
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