My friend Jeff Fortenberry faced sentencing today after his campaign finance trial. He issued the following statement after getting two years probation, a fine, and community service:
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is serve my country and try to help people. I am grateful for over 20 years of public service, and I’m proud of my record of accomplishments for Nebraska and for America.
“I am thankful Judge Blumenfeld took the time to learn about who I am and what I have done in my life. And I am grateful he recognized that ‘by all accounts’ I am a man of ‘exceptional character.’ I was humbled today when the Judge noted that the testimony, including from government witnesses, established my honesty and integrity.
“Having said that, this is a case that never should have been brought; and certainly not in California. As the Judge explained today, I knew nothing about the conspiracy to illegally funnel money to my campaign. I was kept in the dark about it, just like other candidates who received similar illegal campaign contributions. I trusted the FBI agents and prosecutors from the Department of Justice. They took advantage of that trust.
“I will be appealing this verdict. We are continuing the fight for fairness that we’ve waged throughout this process. The issues at stake are much bigger than me. This case shows how the federal false statements statute can be weaponized by FBI and DOJ officials in a way Congress could not have contemplated when it was enacted and that it can be used to destroy the lives of even the most honorable people. On appeal, I will seek to change the way this dangerous statute is applied so it is less subject to abuse by the FBI and DOJ in the future.
“This entire matter has been deeply traumatic for me and my family, but we’re still here, still standing. I’m grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from friends all over the world. I’m especially grateful for the love and support of my family.”
Here’s a news link about it, but take the reporting with a grain of salt.
Jeff and I were roommates at Steubenville and he was always one of the most truthful and honest people I knew. I’m not just saying that. He really had the highest integrity and I was so pleased that he entered public service. This case was a miscarriage of justice and I hope that he is exonerated on appeal, but in the meantime I am glad he remains a free man who can be with his family every day and provide for them as husband as father.