Aug. 24, 2016

Dem congressman convicted on federal corruption charges

Story by Steve Benen

For criminal-defense attorneys in D.C., this has been a Congress to remember.
As we first reported a year ago, then-Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) got the ball rolling with an indictment and conviction. Two months later, then-Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) was forced to resign and still faces the threat of possible criminal charges. A month after that, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted. A month after that, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was indicted and later sentenced to prison.
And two months after that, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) was added to the list, charged in a 29-count indictment, with charges that included bribery, fraud, and money laundering. Today, as the Philadelphia Daily News reported, the Democratic congressman was convicted.
Fattah’s sentencing is set for Oct. 4.
Roll Call reported, “In a statement, Fattah acknowledged the conviction but stopped short of saying outright he had any plans to resign.” It’s hard to imagine how such a decision should be optional.
To be sure, Fattah is on his way out anyway. In April, the incumbent congressman lost in a Democratic primary to a state representative who enjoyed the overwhelming support of the party establishment who wanted nothing to do with an indicted lawmaker. Local voters evidently agreed.
But now that he’s literally been indicted on multiple federal criminal accounts – all of which relate to crimes committed in his professional capacity – I’d expect Fattah to face considerable pressure to step down before his term ends in January.
As for the exact nature of his crimes, Roll Call had a good overview last year: