GOP congressman indicted after making false statements to FBI about illegal donations
According to The Independent, a federal grand jury has indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on three charges that include: "scheming to falsify and conceal information and two counts of making false statements about campaign contributions for his 2016 campaign."
Court documents reportedly indicate that the eight-term lawmaker "allegedly lied to federal investigators who were looking into whether a Nigerian-born Lebanese national, Gilbert Chagoury, donated $30,000 to Mr Fortenberry's 2016 re-election campaign through an American intermediary, businessman Toufic Baaklini."
Since the United States prohibits campaign donations from foreign nationals, those who have an interest in swaying elections seek out intermediaries also described as "straw donors." The publication describes these donors as individuals "who can contribute to campaigns in their own names and thereby conceal the funds true source."
The indictment also shows that one of Fortenberry's fundraisers revealed a $30,000 donation to the lawmaker's campaign that was said to have been made by Baaklini was actually made by Chagoury, a foreign national who, otherwise, would have been unable to donate.
According to the indictment, Fortenberry and his campaign team failed to disclose the true origin of the donation and did not update Federal Election Commission reports to reflect the truth until after the FBI intervened.
"From on or about June 4, 2018, to in or about July 18, 2019, affecting the Federal Investigation in the Central District of California, and within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the government of the United States, namely, the FBI, IRS, and USAO, defendant JEFFREY FORTENBERRY knowingly and willfully falsified, concealed, and covered up by trick, scheme, and device material facts," grand jurors wrote in the indictment as they also alleged Fortenberry “knowingly and willfully made materially false statements and representations to the FBI and IRS, knowing that these statements and representations were untrue."
Grand jurors also indicated that Fortenberry falsely claimed to not have known about Baaklini's illegal donations.
"In fact, as defendant FORTENBERRY then knew, his campaign had never disclosed the names of individuals who were the true sources of the conduit contributions at the 2016 Fundraiser," the indictment reads.
Hours before the indictment was made public, Fortenberry spoke out in a YouTube video where he denied all of the allegations.
- Behind the Fortenberry scandal: Another member of secretive Christian network goes down - Alternet.org ›