U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) announced his resignation on Saturday after he was convicted of lying to federal investigators about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national.
In a letter to the House, Fortenberry said he was resigning from Congress, effective March 31. “It has been my honor to serve with you in the United States House of Representatives,” he said in the letter. “Due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer effectively serve.”
Fortenberry’s resignation comes after calls for him to step down were growing from both sides of the aisle. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) both called for the Nebraska Rep. to step down in separate statements on Friday. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican, called on Fortenberry to “do the right thing for his constituents” and step down in a statement of his own.
Last October, Fortenberry was charged with three felonies, including one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. “After learning of illegal contributions to his campaign, the congressman repeatedly chose to conceal the violations of federal law to protect his job, his reputation and his close associates,” US Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement. “The lies in this case threatened the integrity of the American electoral system and were designed to prevent investigators from learning the true source of campaign funds.”
The indictment stated that an unnamed person, referred to as “Individual H” in the document, acted as a co-host of a 2016 fundraiser for the congressman. According to the indictment, Fortenberry contacted that individual in the spring of 2018 to discuss hosting another event. The court document states that during a June 2018 call, the fundraiser co-host told Fortenberry that the $30,000 in donations “probably did come from” a foreign national.
The congressman has denied the allegations and has contended that the funds were moved into his account without his knowledge.
With Jeff Fortenberry out of the seat he has held since 2005, State Senator Mike Flood will likely become the reliably red district’s next representative. Flood was already hitting Fortenberry hard over his January 6 commission vote and had received an endorsement from Governor Ricketts.