Rep. Jeff Fortenberry resigns after conviction
Why it matters: The resignation marks the end of Fortenberry's nearly two decades in Congress, and comes after both party leaders in the House called on him to step down.
- “This appeal starts immediately,” Fortenberry told reporters after the verdict on Thursday, citing “concerns about the fairness of the process.”
Driving the news: Fortenberry told his House colleagues in a letter that his resignation is effective March 31.
- "Due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer effectively serve," he wrote.
- The letter includes a poem from Mother Teresa, which reads in part, "People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway."
The backdrop: A federal jury in California found Fortenberry guilty of two counts of making false statements and one count of concealing information.
- Fortenberry lied in two interviews with FBI agents about $30,000 in illegal campaign donations he received from Nigerian Lebanese billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, prosecutors said.
- Fortenberry and his attorneys argued the prosecution was politically motivated and that Fortenberry misremembered details of a call with an associate who informed him of the illegal donations.
- Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for June 28.
What they’re saying: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, speaking at a GOP retreat in Florida on Friday, said Fortenberry “had his day in court” and should make his appeal as a “private citizen.”
- “I think when someone's convicted, it's time to resign,” he said at a press conference, adding that he planned to speak with Fortenberry later in the day.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi followed suit in a statement in which she said Fortenberry “must resign from the House.”
- “Congressman Fortenberry’s conviction represents a breach of the public trust and confidence in his ability to serve. No one is above the law.”
Editor's note: This story and headline have been updated to reflect Fortenberry's resignation.