A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has indicted Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry on one charge of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators in connection with a campaign finance investigation concerning "conduit" contributions from foreign donors.
Yes, it is shocking that a Republican Representative from Nebraska would roll out to California to raise money from foreign nationals, but that is exactly what Fortenberry is alleged to have done.
Fortenberry was under investigation for illegal campaign contributions from Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire who funneled $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Fortenberry and three other politicians. Fortenberry received $30,200 of the total.
In the indictment, the Department of Justice alleges that Fortenberry was told the contributions likely came from Chagoury, but Fortenberry never filed an amendment to his campaign report as he was required to do. In 2019, he was interviewed by federal investigators and made "false and misleading statements" with regard to the source of the contributions.
Specifically, Fortenberry said he wasn't aware of any associates of Chagoury being involved in the illegal contributions, insisting that the donors were publicly disclosed and that he had no knowledge of any contributions from a foreign national.
The indictment further alleges that in a second interview, Fortenberry denied any knowledge of any illicit donation made during the fundraiser in 2016.
This is interesting, given that in Chagoury's settlement of the charges against him, including the allegations regarding "conduit donors," Chagoury associate Baaklini "admitted to giving $30,000 in cash provided by Chagoury to an individual at a restaurant in Los Angeles who, along with others, later made campaign contributions to the 2016 campaign of a U.S. congressman."
For his part, Representative Fortenberry has been working toward getting ahead of the story since yesterday. His wife released a statement denying everything, and he released a YouTube video with the same message.
Of course this Republican representative with the cute dog and the F-100 pickup truck is presumed innocent, but there is honestly nothing surprising about foreign supporters showing up with bags of cash and funneling that cash to GOP campaign accounts, because the Republican party is corrupt from the inside out. I'm absolutely sure it's common practice for Republicans to pick up bags of cash at parties and launder them into legit campaign contributions, online and in person.