A Federal jury finally got to hear testimony from Greg Naylor, the key person and the tightest individual in the inner circle surrounding teacher-endorsed Congressman Chaka Fattah.
Testimony on the witness stand against Fattah paints a picture of one of Philadelphia’s most powerful politicians as a perpetual money-deadbeat, taking on obligations left and right, then reaching into the campaign fund to cover those obligations when his Congressional salary and his wife’s as a (former) anchor at NBC10 wasn’t enough.
Naylor admitted cooking up false tax returns for Fattah’s son to sign, listing him as a political employee in order to cover back tuition owed to Drexel University. That tax return was part of the charges Chaka “Chip” Fattah, Jr. was convicted and sentenced to prison for. More importantly: Fattah directed Naylor to do it, linking the congressman.
The problem for Fattah began when he ran for mayor. Campaign finance rules were established in Philadelphia to limit outside money after a Republican candidate for Mayor Sam Katz came dangerously close to defeating incumbent mayor John Street after it was revealed that the FBI had bugged Street’s office. Fattah was one of the key architects of John Street’s comeback campaign to paint the City Hall FBI probe as a D.C.-fueled campaign to eliminate black Philly politicians. The spin-doctoring worked and Street was re-elected. Soon after it was revealed that the FBI wasn’t targeting Street but was listening in to learn how a West Philly imam connected to the drug trade was able to secure City contracts, leading to the infamous “Pay-to-Play” scandal which ruined Street’s legacy forever.
Those campaign finance rules set by City Council after the 2003 election stuck and Fattah was adamant to get around them. Instead of grassroots fundraising, Fattah already had access to one donor who could lend him $1,000,000 right away and could swamp the election. Fattah fought in court to get the City’s campaign finance rules removed–it failed. He proceeded with the loan scheme anyway.
Repaying that loan after his humiliating defeat at the polls set in motion the events which haunt him now. Fattah has been in a perpetual cycle of owing creditors. Keeping up appearances, he still maintained his multiple homes and his lifestyle appeared undamaged. Beneath that veneer his finances had exploded.
In a way, Fattah is somewhat a farce of the traditional 1970s-style liberal-Democratic ethos: get the money now, spend the money now, worry about the consequences later.
Fattah won’t be a Congressman anymore by next year. As the trial continues at a pace faster than most of us care to admit there’s a real possibility we could actually see Fattah convicted within the next two weeks and sentencing delivered before Fattah’s term officially ends. He literally could be sentenced to prison while still a sitting member of Congress.
Naturally, most of Fattah’s most ardent supporters who have papered-over his avarice all these years are staying silent and keeping their heads in the sand.
Well, almost all.Tags: Congressman Chaka Fattah | Gregory Naylor