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Rep. Jeff Fortenberry indicted on charges of lying to federal investigators

A federal grand jury has indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on charges of concealing information and lying to federal investigators who were looking into illegal contributions made to his 2016 re-election campaign, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Fortenberry, 60, was first elected to Congress in 2005. The indictment alleges that in 2016, a foreign billionaire named Gilbert Chagoury arranged for $30,000 of his own money to be contributed to Fortenberry's campaign through an intermediary. Foreign nationals are prohibited from making contributions to federal campaigns, and it's also illegal for campaign contributions to be funneled through third-party conduits.

The $30,000 donation to Fortenberry's campaign was made during a fundraiser in Los Angeles, and the event's co-host — known in the indictment as "Individual H" — began cooperating with federal authorities in late 2016. The DOJ said Individual H told Fortenberry the campaign contribution was likely illegally donated, but when Fortenberry was interviewed by the FBI in 2019, he denied ever hearing this.

Fortenberry posted a video on YouTube Monday night about the matter, and said he felt "betrayed" and "did not lie" to FBI agents. In an email sent to supporters early Tuesday, Fortenberry's campaign said an indictment was coming, adding, "This has all the marks of being a political attack, a bogus charge manufactured to take him out."