A federal grand jury charged Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry with concealing information and lying to federal authorities during an investigation into illegal contributions to his campaign, the Justice Department announced on October 19.
Fortenberry is accused of lying on multiple occasions during an investigation into contributions authorities say originated with Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian billionaire. Under US law, foreign nationals are prohibited from making campaign contributions. Federal officials allege that Chagoury used third parties to funnel $30,000 in contributions to Fortenberry’s campaign.
Prior to the indictment’s announcement, Fortenberry released a video denying the charges. Filming in a pickup truck with his wife and dog, Fortenberry acknowledged that a foreign national funneled money to his campaign, but said that he did not have knowledge of the scheme and cooperated with investigators.
“I didn’t know anything about this,” said Fortenberry, who added that he was “stunned” to be charged.
Contrary to Fortenberry’s account, the indictment against him alleges that the Nebraska Republican made multiple false statements to investigators looking into the contributions.
Fortenberry was charged with one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Each charge carries a maximum term of five years in federal prison. Fortenberry is expected to appear at an arraignment in Los Angeles on October 20. Credit: Jeff Fortenberry via Storyful