Conviction of GOP House Member Overturned
There was a bit of a news dump over the Christmas holiday weekend that managed to slip through the cracks.
Former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), who had been convicted for lying to FBI agents in regard to an investigation into a foreign donor to his campaign, had the ruling overturned.
As it turns out, Biden’s DOJ and FBI had the case tried in the wrong venue.
The charges against Fortenberry were related to more than $30,000 in donations that were made to his campaign via a Nigerian businessman in 2016 at a fundraising event in California.
During the investigation into the matter, LA-based FBI agents interviewed Fortenberry on multiple occasions in Nebraska and D.C.
He was later charged with lying to the agents, and the case that was brought against him was tried in California.
Upon appeal, the decision was turned over because the alleged crimes committed by Fortenberry did not take place in Los Angeles, so the judge ruled the case was tried in the wrong venue.
U.S. District Judge James Donato, in his ruling, wrote, “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.
“The Constitution does not permit this. Fortenberry’s convictions are reversed so that he may be retried, if at all, in a proper venue.”
Fortenberry had maintained during these interviews that he was unaware of illegal campaign contributions, which contradicted information the FBI had from a cooperating witness. Even Donald Trump stuck up for him, saying he was probably never aware of the donation.
And before people start saying this was a decision by a Trump or other Republican-appointed judge, Donato was actually appointed by then-President Barack Obama.
This is one of only a handful of cases where we have seen a Democrat-appointed judge make the correct ruling with a conservative sitting before the bench.
Now the only question is if Merrick Garland’s DOJ is going to waste more time and money to try Fortenberry again or just walk away.
For his part, Fortenberry was obviously happy with the decision, stating, “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.”