Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and four of his associates have been indicted on a slew of racketeering charges stemming from the Democratic lawmaker’s failed 2007 mayoral campaign.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia alleges that Fattah and his associates borrowed $1 million and concealed the loan funds and repayment schemes in “sham contracts and made false entries in accounting records, tax returns and campaign finance disclosure statements.”
Additional charges stem from schemes designed to avoid repayment of loans for his campaigns and son’s student loans as well as personal enrichment — including allegedly taking a bribe to help secure an ambassadorship or appointment to the U.S. Trade Commission for lobbyist Herbert Vederman.
In all Fattah and his associates are facing 29-charges including “bribery; conspiracy to commit mail, wire and honest services fraud; and multiple counts of mail fraud, falsification of records, bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution and money laundering,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Fattah maintained his innocence while speaking to reporters outside his office Wednesday, saying, according to NBC News, that he has “never been involved in any wrong doing, any unlawful activity and any misappropriation of federal funds.”
Investigators and prosecutors however, charge that Fattah and his associates have undermined the public’s trust in elected officials.
“The public expects their elected officials to act with honesty and integrity,” U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said in a statement. “By misusing campaign funds, misappropriating government funds, accepting bribes, and committing bank fraud, as alleged in the Indictment, Congressman Fattah and his co-conspirators have betrayed the public trust and undermined faith in government.”
In a statement Wednesday, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi confirmed Fattah has stepped down as Ranking Member on the House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee until the matter is resolved.
Pelosi called the charges “deeply saddening” and praised Fattah as “a tireless and effective advocate for America’s hard-working families across more than 20 years of distinguished service in the House.”