GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry Resigns Over Multiple Felonies, Just Like Mother Teresa
Nebraska Republican Jeff Fortenberry finally resigned yesterday after having been convicted of three felonies related to illegal campaign contributions earlier this week. He had been encouraged to resign by House leaders Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and probably a whole lot of other people. Fortenberry had been up for reelection, but given that he's meant to be sentenced in June and each of the charges could result in up to five years in federal prison, that would have been rather difficult to pull off.
Like some other politicians, including Mitt Romney and then US Rep. Lee Terry, Fortenberry had received campaign donations from Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire Gilbert Chagoury. Unlike those other politicians, however, Fortenberry kept the donations and asked Chagoury for a second fundraiser. He then lied to federal investigators about knowing about the illegal donations — but unfortunately for him, the agents had a recording of him being told at least three times by the fundraiser that the donations were not legal.
Fortenberry was convicted on charges related to lying to the agents and concealing information in regards to the case, "including one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators."
Upon his resignation, Fortenberry issued a letter to his fellow members of Congress featuring a poem of sorts that Mother Teresa had on her wall in Calcutta, frequently referred to as "Do It Anyway." This also seems to have been Fortenberry's philosophy in taking the illegal campaign contributions to begin with.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Now, some might say that Saint Teresa of Calcutta perhaps did not intend this poem to apply specifically to the experience of having to resign from congress because you lied to federal agents about illegal campaign donations you received. However, she did have her own experience with shady donations, from people like Robert Maxwell (Ghislaine Maxwell's father who went to prison for stealing from his employees pension funds) and savings and loan scandal icon Charles Keating, so you never know.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse