Fortenberry’s team had argued the charges should not have been brought in California.
“After learning of illegal contributions to his campaign, the congressman repeatedly chose to conceal the violations of federal law to protect his job, his reputation and his close associates,” U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement. “The lies in this case threatened the integrity of the American electoral system and were designed to prevent investigators from learning the true source of campaign funds.”
The nine-term congressman stepped aside from his assignment on the Appropriations Committee after being indicted in October, in accordance with House Republican Conference rules. Now that he has been convicted, Fortenberry must be removed within 10 legislative days under the conference rules. Until his legal troubles, he was the top Republican on the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
The inquiry into Fortenberry, 61, began as a wider investigation into Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire who illegally funneled foreign money into U.S. political campaigns. Foreign nationals are prohibited by law from making campaign donations to a federal candidate.