The senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee’s Agriculture Committee solicited funds for a legal defense fund while claiming he is facing federal prosecution, which a spokesman subsequently denied.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) stated on a fundraising website for a new legal cost fund — which was subsequently taken down — that “[President] Biden’s FBI is using its unlimited power to prosecute me on a bogus charge.”
Although neither Fortenberry nor the FBI immediately replied to calls for comment, a Fortenberry spokeswoman subsequently said that the congressman “never saw or approved that language.”
According to the spokesman, the inquiry was launched in response to illicit political donations made by a Lebanese-Nigerian businessman to a number of congressional Republicans.
“It’s been previously reported that the FBI investigated an effort by a foreign national to illegally funnel money to U.S. political campaigns, including Rep. Fortenberry’s” He wrote.
“The people involved in that scheme were prosecuted and no charges were filed against him. This legal expense trust was established in part to address costs associated with that investigation.”
According to Federal Election Commission records, Fortenberry’s present-tense appeal came after his campaign committee hired a new legal firm during the summer.
It paid $25,000 to Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams LLP, a California company specialized in white collar criminal defense, in June.
It was the biggest expenditure for legal services made by the campaign to far.
Until Monday morning, Fortenberry’s legal cost fund was accepting donations of up to $5,000 per contributor each year.
Individuals, companies, and political action committees may donate to the fund, but not registered lobbyists, according to House regulations.
According to records filed with the House clerk, Fortenberry created the legal cost fund on August 27.
“Unlike Swamp Creature Nancy Pelosi, I’m a genuine conservative who has NEVER exploited my position in Congress to become rich,” the campaign’s fundraising website said. “Right now, I’m confronted with the Deep State’s limitless coffers.”
According to public records, he has also hired a digital consultant who assisted in the establishment of a legal cost fund for former Trump administration employee Kash Patel.
According to web domain registration data, Patel’s “Legal Offense Trust” and the Jeff Fortenberry Legal Expense Trust were both registered by the company Believe Media.
Fortenberry, 60, is a former local economist and member of the Lincoln City Council who has represented Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District since 2005.
He is presently the ranking member of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.
Fortenberry’s rapidly removed his fundraising website as soon as it became the subject of media scrutiny, The link is to an archive.