Fortenberry wrote to the House announcing his resignation from Congress on March 31st.
In the letter, he stated that it was his honor to serve alongside you at the United States House of Representatives. "Due to my current circumstances, it is impossible for me to serve effectively."
Fortenberry's resignation letter began with a poem, "Do it Anyway," which is associated with Mother Teresa of the Catholic Church. One line of the poem states: "What you spent years building, someone can destroy overnight." Don't be afraid to build.
Fortenberry's announcement came after concerted pressure from Washington and Nebraska political leaders for him to resign. On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Fortenberry and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to resign.
Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts stated that Fortenberry should do "the right thing for his constituents" by resigning the office he held since 2005.
In October, authorities indicted Fortenberry after he was accused of lying to FBI agents in two separate interviews regarding his knowledge about a $30,000 illegal contribution from his campaign by a foreign billionaire. Fortenberry was interviewed in Lincoln, then again in Washington, D.C., with his lawyers.
Prosecutors presented recordings of phone conversations during which Fortenberry was warned repeatedly that contributions were coming from Gilbert Chagoury (a billionaire Nigerian of Lebanese descent). Three strawmen were used to funnel the donations at a Los Angeles fundraiser in 2016.
state senator Mike Flood is the likely GOP nominee after Fortenberry's withdrawal. Ricketts and the former governor of Nebraska have given endorsements to former speaker of Nebraska Legislature. Dave Heineman has a strong advantage over the Republican-leaning 1st Congressional District. Patty Pansing Brooks (a state senator from Lincoln) is also running for this seat.
Flood, in a statement taken from his campaign, thanked Fortenberry "for his many years of honorable servie" and wished him the best.
Flood stated, "Working together we will keep this chair in Republican hands," and promised to "continue fighting for our families, economy, and conservative values in Congress."
Pansing Brooks stated that Fortenberry's conviction was a "wake up call" to the district and calls for a shift.
Pansing Brooks stated Saturday that this opens up the possibility of a new way to serve (the 1st Congressional District). I'm ready and able for that challenge, and to lead with integrity.
A special election will likely be called due to the timing of Fortenberry's resignation. Governors can't appoint someone to the seat.
The law in Nebraska requires that the governor schedule a special election within 90-days of a vacant congressional seat. Each party can choose a nominee to run for the remaining term of the congressional member.
Flood and Pansing Brooks both will run in the special election for the seat. They also run in November to be eligible to serve the next term.
The primary in Nebraska is May 10. It's too late for Fortenberry to be removed from the primary ballot because counties have already sent ballots to military personnel serving overseas and to other absentee voters. Officials from the Election Commission have stated that there's not enough time to schedule a special vote to coincide with this primary.