It's official: Philadelphia Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah has been rung up on all corruption charges that he faced in federal court this afternoon.
Fattah, 59, had been charged with bribery, racketeering, money laundering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, and filing false statements as part of a years-long criminal scheme that even included Fattah lobbying President Barack Obama for an appointment for one of his co-conspirators. Fattah was found guilty on all charges, as were four co-defendants.
The guilty verdict brings to a stunning end Fattah's three-decade career in Philadelphia politics, and is a major victory for the Justice Department and Zane David Memeger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Memeger's office prosecuted the case against Fattah, who was first elected to Congress in 1994.
“Chaka Fattah Sr. and his co-defendants betrayed the public trust and undermined our faith in government,” Memeger said. “Today’s verdict makes clear that the citizens of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania expect their public officials to act with honesty and integrity, and to not sell their office for personal gain. Hopefully, our elected officials in Philadelphia and elsewhere hear today’s message loud and clear.”
Fattah is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 4. He could face as long as 20 years behind bars on the bribery charges alone, but it is not yet clear how much prison time prosecutors will seek. Fattah is likely to appeal his conviction.
So what becomes of Fattah's seat? He had already lost his April primary to Pennsylvania state Rep. Dwight Evans, so should Fattah be forced from his office (and I can't see how he stays now with these convictions) it would be up to Gov. Tom Wolf to set a special election date.
Wolf can set the election date as the next regular election if he wants, he just can't set it any sooner than 60 days from the point where the seat is certified to be open according to state law, so yeah, Wolf can stretch it along if he wants to, but he can't appoint anyone to the office in the interim as state law doesn't allow it.
I would think that neither party would complain too much about the election happening in November as usual, so we'll see if Fattah leaves now or later.
Once again, not all corrupt politicians are Republicans, not by any stretch of the imagination. I've no pity or sympathy for the man ripping off his constituents for years, and hope he serves as an example in a very unpleasant section of substandard federal housing.