Thursday, August 28, 2014

Inquirer: Plea from former aide raises tough questions for Fattah (with Response from Philly GOP)


Elected Official A has some explaining to do.
That was the consensus in Philadelphia political circles Wednesday as people absorbed the news that a longtime aide and confidante to U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) had pleaded guilty to concealing the misuse of $622,000 in campaign contributions and federal grants.
Fattah has been able to brush aside past reports of federal investigations into his and his family's finances, but the detailed conspiracy outlined by Gregory Naylor will require a response, said Democratic strategist Ken Smukler.
"He has been very strident in his defense and has never wavered, but it's a damning document," Smukler said. "The next 24 hours is going to say a lot about Chaka's future."
The plea memo released by federal prosecutors identifies Naylor's boss only as "Elected Official A," but the descriptions of the politician involved make it clear they are referring to Fattah. Much of the case centers around Fattah's failed 2007 bid for mayor.
"It's only a matter of time before another shoe drops - and that's frustrating," said one Democrat, who asked not to be identified because he has worked with Fattah's political organization.
Fattah and Naylor were silent Wednesday, and most of the city's political players were unwilling to discuss on the record the 10-term congressman's situation.
Considering that the memo said Naylor would cooperate with prosecutors and would testify at trial, it was safe to say that Fattah is facing a potentially grave threat to his career.
Republicans seized on that Wednesday.
"It's just more of the same of what we've come to expect from Philadelphia Democrats," said Joe DeFelice, executive director of the Philadelphia GOP.
"Frankly, I think it's the arrogance of incumbency," he said. DeFelice noted that Fattah has a Republican challenger this fall, Armond James, 33, a West Philadelphia schoolteacher, and said he hoped that the allegations involving Fattah would boost James' campaign.

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