A federal grand jury in California has indicted Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln for lying to federal agents investigating illegal campaign contributions from a Nigerian billionaire in 2016,
The U-S Attorney’s office says the federal grand jury in Los Angeles had indicted the nine-term Republican on one charge of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators.
Fortenberry proclaimed his innocence and promised to fight the charges in a YouTube video posted Monday night that also has him saying he was “shocked” and “stunned” by the allegations.
The FBI investigation began during the Trump administration and focused on $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions from Gilbert Chagoury to 4 politicians, including Fortenberry in 2016 and then-Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry in 2014.
The indictment alleges a co-host of a 2016 fundraiser told Fortenberry the $30,200 probably came from Chagoury, but that the congressman never filed a required amended report with the Federal Election Commission.
He’s also accused of later making “false and misleading statements” to federal investigators during a March 23, 2019 interview.
In his video, made in his 1963 pickup with his wife and dog beside him and corn in the background, Fortenberry says he didn’t lie to the agents and did tell them what he knew about the 2016 contribution.
His wife Celeste issued a statement of her own, saying the investigation of her husband “has all the marks of being a political attack, a bogus charge manufactured to take him out.”
She specifically mentions next year’s mid-term elections and says the federal prosecutor who sought the indictments is “in the running for a big promotion.”