Do you all remember the fascinating story of former Congressman Chaka Fattah? After having been found to have “redirected” huge amounts of public money to cover some personal debts (along with numerous other improprieties) the Pennsylvania Democrat resigned his post in Congress only after being threatened with becoming the sixth member in history to be forcibly ejected from the House of Representatives. He wound up being convicted on those charges earlier this year and yesterday the sentencing phase took place.
Let’s just say he’s going to have a lot of time to think about what he’s done. (Associated Press)
Former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was sentenced Monday to a 10-year prison term by a judge who said he was “astonished” that a veteran legislator would steal government and charity funds to pay his son’s debts and buy a vacation home…
As he awaited his sentence, Fattah told the judge he had mixed emotions: saddened to find himself in court but grateful for the work he was able to do over 37 years as a state and federal lawmaker.
“I’ve helped tens of millions of people,” said Fattah, 60. “(That) has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been found on the wrong side of these questions by a jury.”
This pretty much closes this sad chapter in American politics and the corruption we see too often, but it seems that some people really haven’t learned much from the experience. While more of a side note, I have to wonder about Judge Harvey Bartle, who claimed to be “astonished” that a sitting member of Congress would attempt to get away with this sort of a scam. I can only assume that the judge doesn’t run into a lot of politicians in his line of work. We should give him props for noting during the sentencing that Fattah had “engaged in grave and widespread criminal activity.” At least he wasn’t soft selling it.
But Fattah doesn’t seem to be expressing any remorse whatsoever. He went down still praising his own work in the public sector and could only manage to say that he had been “found on the wrong side of these questions by a jury.” There were no questions to be on the right side of here and it wasn’t a “disagreement.” These were criminal charges and he was found guilty. This is a guy who took tens of thousands of dollars from a non-profit fund to pay for his kid’s college loans. There was another $23K which mysteriously wound up in his pocket in exchange for helping a friend get a position as an ambassador. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the more than half a million dollars he filched from education funds to pay off a personal loan.
Somehow Fattah can’t seem to see how he did anything wrong. It’s as if he felt he was just entitled to the money by virtue of his position and any “misunderstandings” about how it was spent are the fault of the public for not understanding and sympathizing with his needs. That sense of entitlement probably says more about his character than all of his previous criminal deeds combined.