'In Defense of Christians' head resigns over ties to illegal donations to GOP lawmaker
Screenshot from "In Defense of Christian" YouTube channel

According to a report from the Catholic News Agency, the investigation and indictment of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) for accepting illegal campaign contributions has claimed a victim with the resignation of the head of a Catholic advocacy group.

One week ago Fortenberry was indicted by the Justice Department after he allegedly lied to the FBI about campaign contributions from Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire Gilbert Chagoury. According to the indictment, the GOP lawmaker, "knowingly and willfully falsified, concealed, and covered up by trick, scheme, and device material facts" related to the case.

On Sunday, "In Defense of Christians" president and board chairman Toufic Baaklini stepped down with the organization stating it was related to "allegations of wrongdoing recently reported in the media in connection with campaign contributions."

According to the CNA report, "Earlier this year, Baaklini admitted to serving as a willing conduit for illegal donations by the billionaire Gilbert Chagoury to the re-election campaign of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.). Both Fortenberry and Chagoury have ties to In Defense of Christians, and Fortenberry last week was indicted on charges of lying to federal prosecutors about the illegal contributions. "

The group made a further statement, adding, "Any contributions made by, or through Mr. Baaklini to Members of Congress or candidates were in his personal capacity."