Ethics Panel to Investigate Illegal Contribution Charges Against Fortenberry
WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Ethics has formed a panel to determine whether Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., is guilty of accepting illegal campaign contributions, this on the heels of the Justice Department filing criminal charges against the nine-term congressman.
Rep. Susan Wild, D-Penn., will serve as chair of the investigative subcommittee, with Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., serving as ranking member.
Reps. Colin Allred, D-Texas, and David Rouzer, R-N.C., will fill out the panel.
As previously reported by The Well News, Fortenberry has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of lying to the FBI and concealing information from federal agents investigating campaign contributions illegally made to him by a Nigerian billionaire.
The Representative has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and earlier this week, he asked a judge to toss out statements he made to federal authorities who were investigating the alleged illegal contributions, claiming a prosecutor misled his lawyer with assurances that he wasn’t their target.
The motion filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Jenkins persuaded Fortenberry to speak with him by assuring his lawyer at the time, former Rep. Trey Gowdy, that Fortenberry was not a “target” of the government’s investigation, but merely a “subject” and potential witness.
In his not-guilty plea, Fortenberry said he was only trying to help investigators get to the bottom of the matter.
His current attorney says had it not been for the prosecutor’s assurances that the congressman wasn’t their target, they never would have agreed to the interview.
Federal prosecutors have said they will respond to allegations made by the congressman in future court filings.
The Justice Department has asked the Ethics Committee to defer consideration of “matters within the investigative subcommittee’s jurisdiction until the criminal case has concluded.”
Once it does begin its work, the committee will look into whether Fortenberry’s 2016 congressional campaign accepted illegal contributions and whether he engaged in a scheme to falsify and conceal material facts and/or made false statements, during the subsequent federal investigation.
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