DOJ announces indictment of GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for allegedly funneling Nigerian campaign funds

House Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) predicted he would be indicted by the Department of Justice just hours before the government agency announced his indictment. Fortenberry believed he was going to be charged with lying to the FBI during an investigation of his campaign funds. He claimed he was being wrongfully accused and that he would be fighting the charges.

The FBI was investigating Fortenberry for campaign funds which were funneled in by a billionaire from Nigeria (Omaha World Herald). A group of Californians funneled the funds between 2012 and 2016, ultimately sending the money to four different politicians, including Fortenberry. The investigation by the FBI began in the state of California. In total, the Nigerian billionaire, Gilbert Chagoury sent $180,000, with $30,200 going to Fortenberry and $10,000 going to former representative Lee Terry, also of Nebraska.

Fortenberry, who is in his ninth term in the House, uploaded a video to his YouTube channel earlier this week, trying to get ahead of the story. Although the story hasn’t garnered much media attention, the indictment comes as no surprise to those familiar with the case. In 2019, he was interviewed by the FBI in his home and in August, Fortenberry opened up a “Fight with Fort” fundraising page to help cover the potential legal battle. He and his wife have sent an email out to their supporters and claimed that the intensifying legal battle was a result of a political attack.

He has claimed that the government agency found him innocent of the crime but are indicting him for allegedly lying under oath. In a press release on Tuesday, the DOJ says, “The indictment alleges a scheme in which Fortenberry, after learning this information, ‘knowingly and willfully falsified, concealed, and covered up by trick, scheme, and device material facts’ about the illegal campaign contributions.” The Department of Justice reached a settlement with Chagoury in March, in which was fined $1.8 million over his $180,000 in contributions. It is illegal for foreigners to contribute to political campaigns in the U.S.

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