Earlier this week, John covered the end to the Pennsylvania trial of Congressman Chaka Fattah and his conviction on multiple counts of racketeering and fraud. One would expect that with such a result, Fattah would quickly depart the scene, sparing his constituents and his colleagues in the lower chamber any further embarrassment. But Fattah initially offered his resignation for October 3rd, the day before he’s to be sentenced. That didn’t sit well with the Speaker of the House, and facing the possibility of more severe measures, he quickly suggested some sort of compromise might be in order. (Politico)
Following Ryan’s statement — and facing the real possibility of expulsion — Fattah issued another statement signaling he was willing to step down sooner.
“With that said, in further consultation with House Leadership, we are working to identify an agreeable time frame which will relieve the House of any distractions in carrying out the people’s business,” Fattah said. “I hold the institution of the Congress of the United States in the highest regard and am thankful for the privilege to have served.”
The idea of a compromise which kept Fattah in his seat even longer wasn’t going to fly with the leadership either. So yesterday, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that they were pulling the ultimate trigger for a seated member and ejecting him from the House.
“Representative Chaka Fattah has abused his office as well as the trust granted to him by his constituents. Though his resignation is welcomed, it is improper for him to hold office any longer after being convicted of such crimes. This is why the House voted to expel him from office, so that the people of Pennsylvania’s 2nd district can elect a new representative.”
Interestingly, this is only the sixth time in the history of the country that a sitting member of the House of Representatives has been expelled. The first three were John B. Clark, John W. Reid and Henry C. Burnett (the first two from Kentucky and the last from Missouri), all of whom were expelled in 1861 on charges of having taken up arms against the United States during the civil war. In 1980, Michael Myers of Pennsylvania was expelled after being caught up in the Abscam fiasco. The last to be shown the door in this fashion was James Traficant of Ohio in 2002 who had similarly been convicted of bribery, obstruction of justice, and racketeering.
Interesting side note: Including this most recent member of a rather unsavory club, all six were Democrats.