Ex-Nebraska lawmaker indicted again over illegal campaign donation

Federal prosecutors have indicted former Nebraska lawmaker Jeff Fortenberry alleging he lied to the FBI over an illegal campaign contribution.

This is not the first time prosecutors have indicted Mr Fortenberry.

A jury found him guilty in 2022 of lying to the FBI about a contribution from a Nigerian businessman. But a federal appeals court reversed the conviction last year.

Now, Mr Fortenberry, a Republican, is facing the same charges.

Federal prosecutors charged Mr Fortenberry in papers filed Thursday with falsifying and concealing facts and making false statements in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. They are connected with the same alleged incident as the earlier indictment.

In the first indictment, Mr Fortenberry faced three federal felonies of lying to the FBI about an allegedly illegal $30,000 contribution to his 2016 re-election campaign from a Nigerian businessman.

The former Nebraska lawmaker was accused of lying to FBI agents during two interviews about his knowledge of the contributions. He was convicted of the charges by a jury in Los Angeles, and sentenced to two years probation and a $25,000 fine.

But one interview occurred in his Nebraska home and the other was in a lawyer's office in Washington, D.C. An appeals court reversed the conviction last year, finding that Mr Fortenberry was tried in the wrong state.

According to the court's opinion, the trial should have been held in Nebraska or Washington, D.C. - where he allegedly made the false statements - and not in California.

He resigned from his House seat after the conviction amid threats of possible expulsion.

At the time, federal investigators had been conducting a criminal investigation into illegal political contributions to Mr Fortenberry's 2016 re-election campaign, as well as other federal candidates' campaigns, according to the indictment. Investigators questioned lawmakers as to whether they were aware of the illegal contributions.

The Nigerian businessman arranged for the $30,000 to be contributed through other individuals to Mr Fortenberry's campaign.

Mr Fortenberry later learned of the illegal contribution, but allegedly did not file an amended Federal Election Commission report regarding the donation, according to the indictment.

It says he told federal investigators on two separate occasions that he was not aware of the illegal contribution and that every campaign contribution was publicly disclosed. He also reported that he was unaware of any contributions made by foreign nationals, saying he would be "horrified" if he learned of an illegal contribution, according to the indictment.

The indictment filed on Thursday alleges Mr Fortenberry knowingly falsified and concealed the illegal contribution from a foreign national.