Let’s take a look at who the Department of Justice has recently investigated for reasons similar to the allegations alleged in the indictment of Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA).
Rep. Allan Mollohan (D-WV) was investigated by DoJ for four years. In 2010, the case was dropped.
Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) was investigated for corruption. He died in 2010 while DoJ was still investigating.
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) was investigated for years. In 2010 the FBI dropped the case.
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) was being investigated by the FBI for steering money to a campaign donor. No indictment.
Rep. Kurt Weldon (D-PA) was investigated by the FBI around 2006. Nothing happened.
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) was investigated for a connection between donations and earmarks. Nothing.
Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) was investigated around 2006. Plenty of press on an investigation. No indictment.
The feds did indict Rick Renzi (3 years), Tom DeLay (conviction overturned), Frank Ballance (4 years), Duke Cunningham (8 years), Bill Jefferson (13 years) and Jesse Jackson, Jr. (2 years). But it’s always interesting to review who the feds move on and which cases are dropped.
Yesterday the Department of Justice indicted Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) in an investigating that covered a nine year period. Rep. Fattah, the most senior Black member of Congress on the most powerful committee in Congress, House Appropriations, is also the most powerful Black member of Congress. Whether the allegations against Fattah are true and whether they can be proven in a courtroom, only time can tell. As someone who has sat in federal court, you learn that how charges are presented live to a jury, and how it reads on paper, is two completely different things.
Fattah’s indictment will likely go down as one of the worst days for the Black Caucus since Rep. Charlie Rangel was forced to step down from the Chairmanship of Ways & Means in 2009, though there was no indictment in Rangel’s case, he would never return to the powerful position. Whether Rep. Fattah will step aside from being the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which has seen clear improvement since he became Board Chair, is unknown.
Though there are examples of electeds who have been indicted and beat the charges, notably, the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), and former “unindicted co-conspirator” Reps. Cleo Fields and Harold Ford, Sr., (D-TN), for anyone in public office, an indictment in itself is likely the harshest punishment.
Rep. Fattah, who has been in Congress since 1995, is the fourth Black member of the House Appropriations committee to have his time on the committee ended in an unexpected way. In 2013, former Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI) unexpectedly lost her primary to former Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI).
In 2006, former Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-LA), was removed from Appropriations after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed for it. Jefferson was indicted in 2009, and is now serving the longest sentence for corruption in American history. In 2013, former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. was forced to resign as part of deal with DoJ after a misusing campaign funds.
The results of U.S. Attorney Zane Memminger’s dedication are likely to be that Philadelphia and Pennsylvania will not enjoy millions of dollars Rep. Fattah was able to appropriate to the district and to the state of Pennsylvania.
“He brought a lot of resources to the city of Philadelphia,” Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA) told the Philly Daily News yesterday.
“A lot of children are going to college because of him. It’s sad. I understand he’s resigned off the Appropriations Committee. Now we have nobody from the city of Philadelphia to watch our financial back. “I think the city of Philadelphia is going to be hurting. He was a major player on the committee.” he added.
“I’ve said many, many times, and I think it’s true, Congressman Chaka Fattah has probably helped more children go to college than any other member of the U.S. Congress,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to the Philly Enquirer yesterday.