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Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry from Nebraska stepped down from his congressional committee seats on Wednesday, one day after being indicted by a grand jury on charges of illegal campaign contributions and knowingly lying to federal authorities.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry cited GOP Conference rules which say a member of Congress who has been indicted on felony charges that could put them in prison for more than two years, must abdicate panel assignments.
Fortenberry, a nine-term congressman, served on the House Appropriations Committee and led Republicans on the agriculture subcommittee. He said stepping down from his assignments would be "temporary" as he works to resolve his legal issues, according to Axios.
A federal grand jury indicted Fortenberry on one count of “scheming to falsify and conceal material facts” and two counts of “making false statements to federal investigators looking into illegal contributions" by Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury to his campaign during the 2016 cycle, according to the Justice Department.
Fortenberry denies any wrongdoing.
“I told them what I knew and what I understood,” Fortenberry said in a video preceding the indictment. “They’ve accused me of lying to them and are charging me with this. We’re shocked. We’re stunned. I feel so personally betrayed. We thought we were trying to help. And so now, we will have to fight.”
Fortenberry has pleaded "not guilty" to all charges Wednesday during his first court appearance. If convicted, each charge holds a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
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Original Author: Misty Severi