Prosecutors Charge Rep. Jeff Fortenberry with Federal Corruption

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican, is in a federal courtroom in Los Angeles, representing himself against a sole government corruption accusation.

In a trial scheduled to begin on Wednesday, prosecutors in California allege Fortenberry fabricated statements and withheld evidence from federal investigators.

Multiple Charges

It’s a chapter that left several unanswered issues regarding how Fortenberry’s political future will be affected by the indictment and trial.

Fortenberry, who was not present in the Capitol on Tuesday night, due to the trial, has asserted his innocence, claiming the case was politically driven.

Fortenberry, who was first elected to the House in 2004, pleaded not guilty to “one count of conspiring to falsify and cover up material facts, as well as two counts of giving false information to federal investigators.”

This is in connection with federal investigations into Lebanese Nigerian tycoon Gilbert Chagoury’s $180,000 in unlawful campaign donations from 2012 to 2016.

Fortenberry has claimed the allegations are politically driven; his defense counsel maintained the congressman “lacked a clear memory of the events.”

While Fortenberry, 61, previously coasted to reelection, the charge spawned a contentious primary.

State Sen. Mike Flood, a past speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, challenged Fortenberry for the traditionally red district’s GOP nomination. May 10 is the Republican primary.

Flood’s entry into the campaign has divided the state’s Republican establishment, with notable figures such as Lt. Gov. Mike Foley siding with the incumbent.

In contrast, Gov. Pete Ricketts and previous Gov. Dave Heineman have come out against Fortenberry.

Ricketts said in January, “Mike will be able to devote his entire power to trying to represent the 1st Congressional District here in Nebraska and put an end to the radical ideology emanating from Washington.”

“That is why I am so proud to be able to endorse him in this primary for the position of the next congressperson from the 1st Congressional District.”

Fundraising snd Division

Flood has raised a significant amount of money since entering the race, according to one Nebraska political operator; his supporters are confident in his chances.

“Within two weeks, he raised $400,000. In comparison, one may recall that Fortenberry generated around $70,000 in the final quarter of last year,” the insider explained.

Flood’s supporters said Fortenberry’s trial could hurt Republicans’ chances of keeping the seat. Fortenberry’s side said Flood’s entry into the campaign was too soon.

“I’d say the campaign is doing well. Jeff has long established himself as a conservative in the state; voters recognize him and approve of him,” a source familiar to Fortenberry informed the Washington Examiner.

“He’s always been a tremendous campaigner; he continues to be a good campaigner and we’re fairly confident in his current position.”

“The outcome of the investigation, I believe, will undoubtedly have an effect on the campaign, but people will see through the claims against him,” the insider added.

“I’ll say this: Jeff’s challenger, Mike Flood, has virtually made the case he’s running due to Jeff’s case. I’m saying if Jeff is found innocent, which we are convinced he will be, Mike has no incentive to run.”