U.S. congressman charged with lying to FBI about campaign contributions

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FILE PHOTO: Representative Fortenberry speaks during House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with Pompeo

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES – A U.S. congressman who prosecutors say lied to FBI investigators about illegal contributions to his 2016 re-election campaign from foreign nationals was indicted on federal charges on Tuesday.

Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska, was indicted by a U.S. District Court grand jury in Los Angeles on two counts of making false statements to federal investigators and one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts.

Fortenberry, 60, said in a videotaped statement with his wife, posted to YouTube earlier on Tuesday, that he expected to be charged in the case.

“We’re shocked, we’re stunned. I feel so personally betrayed,” Fortenberry says in the video, speaking as he sat next to his wife and dog in the cab of his Ford pickup truck.

Fortenberry said he had spoken to FBI agents at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska, about the campaign contributions and had told the truth, trying to assist them in the investigation. He asked viewers for prayers on his behalf.

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Prosecutors accuse Fortenberry, who was first elected to Nebraska’s 1st congressional district in 2005, of lying to investigators about $30,000 in campaign contributions he received in 2016 from Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury.

Federal law prohibits foreign nationals from donating to federal election campaigns.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Richard Chang)