Chaka Fattah Resigns From the House of Representatives After Corruption Charges
Longtime Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah was convicted on June 21, 2016 on federal corruption charges. According to Politico Fattah was found guilty of bribery, racketeering, money laundering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud and making false statements about a criminal scheme. Earlier this week, House Democrats were wrestling with whether they should demand Fattah’s resignation or seek his expulsion from Congress.
House Democrats no longer have to wrestle with this decision. In a report by the Associated Press, Fattah has officially announced that he is resigning from the House effective October 3, 2016.
Not everyone was pleased that Fattah delayed his resignation until October. On Wednesday Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan stated, “Mr. Fattah has betrayed the trust of this institution and the people of Pennsylvania, and for that, he should resign immediately from the House of Representatives. We must hold members to the highest ethical standard, and I hope that Democratic leaders will join me in seeking his immediate resignation.”
Fattah responded by writing to Ryan, “I’m very sorry about the results that the jury rendered yesterday, and because of that my resignation is effective Oct. 3, 2016. Despite my resignation, I am working to clear my name of these charges and plan to mount an appeal.”
During similar scandals in the past, those found guilty typically resigned or were expelled by their colleagues if they did not leave voluntarily.
In 2008, Democrat Charles Rangel was accused of ethical violations and failure to comply with tax laws. Instead of being removed from office, though, he was merely censured — publicly reprimanded for his actions and stripped of any committee chair titles he held. In fact, Rangel is the second-longest currently serving member of the House of Representatives, having been in office since 1971.
But Rangel’s situation is not typical. In 2002 Democrat Jim Traficant was convicted on similar charges to Fattah: taking bribes, filing false tax returns, racketeering, and forcing his aides to perform tasks at his home. Traficant ended up serving 7 years in jail after being dismissed from Congress.
Fattah had already lost the Democratic primary and is currently ineligible to vote. By House rules if a lawmaker is convicted of a crime that could hold more than 2 years in jail he becomes ineligible to vote on legal issues in committee or on the floor. His charges of bribery alone could cost him up to 20 years behind bars.