Home News Appeals Court Overturns Republican Lawmaker’s Conviction

Appeals Court Overturns Republican Lawmaker’s Conviction

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Gavel via Wikimedia Commons Image

How embarrassing…

President Biden’s Department of Justice was humiliated by a recent federal appeals court decision to overturn ex-Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s (R-Neb.) conviction of lying to the FBI about an illegal campaign contribution.

Last year, a California jury convicted Fortenberry for false statements he made during interviews in Nebraska and the nation’s capital over an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national.

The Republican lawmaker resigned from his seat in Congress and was sentenced to two years of probation, a $25,000 fine and 320 hours of community service. However, the federal appeals court ruled that because Fortenberry was tired in the proper venue his conviction must be overturned.

“Fortenberry’s trial took place in a state where no charged crime was committed, and before a jury drawn from the vicinage of the federal agencies that investigated the defendant,” wrote U.S. District Judge James Donato, who sat on the appeals court by designation. 

“The Constitution does not permit this. Fortenberry’s convictions are reversed so that he may be retried, if at all, in a proper venue,” the 23-page opinion continued.

According to reports from The Hill, authorities charged Fortenberry after accepting a $30,200 donation from a Nigerian businessman to the then-congressman’s campaign at a 2016 fundraising event in California. Fortenberry told investigators that he was unaware of any illegal contributions to his campaign. But court filings indicate the agency had listened into an earlier phone call, in which a cooperating witness told Fortenberry that the Nigerian businessman was likely the source of the $30,200 donation. 

Federal law prohibits campaign contributions from foreign nationals to any local, state or federally elected official.

“We are gratified by the Ninth Circuit’s decision. Celeste and I would like to thank everyone who has stood by us and supported us with their kindness and friendship,” Fortenberry said in a statement.

While the appeals court decision reverses Fortenberry’s sentence, the ex-lawmaker could still be retried in the proper venue.

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