Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska finally gave in to the pressure from others and formally resigned from office on Saturday after a California jury convicted him of lying to federal authorities about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national.
In a letter to the House, Fortenberry said he was resigning from Congress, effective March 31st. “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 letter opened with a poem, “Do It Anyway,” that’s associated with fellow Catholic Mother Teresa. One line from the poem says: “What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.” Of course, Mother Teresa wasn’t referencing illegal campaign donations.
“I think when someone’s convicted, it’s time to resign.”
— House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) being found guilty of campaign finance violations and lying to the FBI pic.twitter.com/mnckdsjAL6
— The Recount (@therecount) March 25, 2022
Fortenberry was indicted in October after authorities said he lied to FBI agents in two separate interviews about his knowledge of an illegal $30,000 contribution from his campaign from a foreign billionaire. Fortenberry was interviewed at his home in Lincoln, and then again with his lawyers present in Washington, D.C. Along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who urged Fortenberry to resign on Friday, Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts said Fortenberry should “do the right thing for his constituents” and leave the office he has held since 2005.
#Fortenberry is a bully who can't take criticism. He used the power of his office to attack a Professor for liking a funny post about him. He used the Lincoln police to hunt for someone who put up a sign making fun of his name. His abuse of power should've gotten him kicked out. pic.twitter.com/fNau3M4gbI
— Spocko (@spockosbrain) March 26, 2022
Fortenberry’s withdrawal from the primary leaves state Sen. Mike Flood as the likely GOP nominee. The former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, who has won endorsements from Ricketts and former Gov. Dave Heineman, has a strong advantage in the Republican-leaning 1st Congressional District. State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, a Democrat from Lincoln, is also running for the seat.
Jeff Fortenberry was found guilty on three felony counts — each carry a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. The Nebraska Congressman plans to appeal the verdict.
"We always felt like it was gonna be hard to have a fair process."
— KETV NewsWatch 7 (@KETV) March 25, 2022