Why I Cannot Feel Sorry for Chaka Fattah

Even though he was a United States Congressman from Pennsylvania his conviction did not make national news on CNN.  He had been investigated by the FBI for almost ten years for his misdeeds during and after the 2007 mayoral election in Philadelphia.   Chaka was supposedly legendary for his ground game.  For the political novice, this game includes the ability to motivate teams of people to pass out literature and get loyal voters to the polls on election day.  Chaka had been a sitting Congressman and rarely had to campaign for reelection.  His ascension to Congress was extraordinary.  He served in the House of Representatives from 1983 to 1988.  He then was elected to the State Senate and served until 1994.

He served a district that includes portions of North, South and West Philadelphia.  His district also included Lower Merion Township.  A more diverse juxtaposition of constituents could not have been put together without gerrymandering.  In spite of his impending legal troubles, he constantly spoke of the millions of people that he helped go to college.  He iterated on his position on the Appropriations Committee in Congress.  He was a senior member of Congress and one of the only African American Congressman in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  It is for this reason that he should have been more circumspect when he was making the disastrous deals that led to his downfall.

Former Mayor Michael Nutter was able to get legislation passed that put a cap on political donations.  I think it might have been $2,500.00 from individuals and $10,000.00 from political action committees (PAC's).  This made raising money all the more difficult.  Even Bob Brady, who was backed by powerful trade unions, struggled under these restrictions.  Michael Nutter was not in the lead early in the race.  Millionaire Tom Knox was able to spend his own money in an unlimited way but his message did not resonate with voters.  Local 98 was found to have smeared Michael Nutter with a false campaign about his religious faith.  Chaka seemed to falter without a direct message.  State Representative Dwight Evans made a commercial about a table and I have been scratching my head ever since.

Chaka had exhibited a strong degree of hubris throughout his investigation and trial.  Even when he was convicted, he thanked his legal team instead of admitting any guilt.  Even now he is pointing to the overturning of a conviction of Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell rather than acknowledging that he ruined his own career and the legacy that his Mother, Sister Falaka Fattah established when the House of Umoja was established to address rampant gang violence in our city.  I was saddened to see Chaka's Father being interviewed after the verdict.  He still wasn't convinced that his son was guilty of the myriad number of crimes that he was convicted of.  Former associate Greg Naylor pleaded guilty early on to his involvement in the schemes to repay $600,000.00 that a supporter of Fattah donated when it became apparent that the ground game alone was not going to rescue the then sitting Congressman.  Maybe Chaka's father should have spoken to Bonnie Bowser, who was sentenced to house arrest, and faced astronomical legal bills, to assess the guilt or innocence of his son.

Chip Fattah is now sitting in jail on embezzlement charges.  This will not be the first time that a father and son have served jail time at the same time.  Chip Fattah never admitted any guilt for his hare brained schemes either.  Chaka Fattah was convicted of paying his son's student loans with a federal grant but his pride wouldn't let him admit this crime.  His sham sale of a Porsche to Herb Vederman was documented but not admitted to.  His redirecting a federal grant to pay back the money was just the way he was used to doing business.  I wonder if he would have expressed some form of contrition would the judge have allowed him to remain free during his appeal?  U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III was fair in his rulings on both father and son.  The preponderance of evidence in both cases pointed to greed and arrogance of the worst kind.

I would have loved to hear Chaka Fattah say that I am sorry for the misdeeds that occurred on his watch.  I have betrayed the trust placed in me by the voters who sent me to Washington 11 times.  I could have made better decisions with the federal funds that my office was responsible for handling. Because he found himself inherently non-culpable, I don't feel as if he deserves any sympathy on my part.  He can do a lot of reading and pondering as he begins to serve his term in federal housing.  When he admits some form of guilt, I will possibly shed a tear for the terrible tragedy that his life story has become.

On Tuesday, January 24th, 2017, the day before he is to begin his sentence, Chaka Fattah is still confident that his conviction will be overturned on appeal.  He still denies any wrongdoing.  He feels that he helped tens of millions or people and sent more people to college than any other Congressman.  He is clearly delusional.  He said that he talks to his imprisoned son Chip everyday.  He said that Chip is doing good.  How can that be?  Maybe his smirk will disappear once he is a couple of years into his sentence.  His arrogance is amazing.

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