Fattah's new spin: Turn the tables on the feds

Posted: September 05, 2014

U.S. REP. Chaka Fattah yesterday wondered aloud - into microphones held by reporters - whether federal investigators "have crossed the line" in a seven-year probe of his finances.

Fattah, speaking at the grand opening of Dilworth Park on City Hall's western apron, offered no proof of any misconduct in an investigation the feds have never even confirmed to exist.

"If we're looking for illegal activity or improper activity, some might want to question whether there has been any illegal activity in this investigation, whether the people who are pursuing these allegations have done anything wrong," Fattah said. "Because I think there's ample reason to believe that in their zest they may have crossed the line."

As a turn-the-tables strategy, this doesn't spin very well.

Fattah offers no specific allegations and has no paper trail, all the highlights readily available in last week's federal guilty-plea memorandum about Greg Naylor, Fattah's longtime friend and political consultant.

Patty Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, was advised of the 10-term Democrat's claim and responded: "We neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigations."

Fattah, as he did earlier this week, denied any illegal acts but dodged a question about whether he'd played a role in receiving and repaying an illegal $1 million loan for his 2007 mayoral campaign.

Asked about that yesterday, he "confessed" to working hard to find "billions of dollars" to help young people attend college.

The illegal campaign loan was detailed in depth in Naylor's plea memo, which referred to Fattah as "Elected Official A."

The memo laid out a scheme to repay the $600,000 loan balance by misdirecting a $500,000 grant from the Sallie Mae Fund, the charitable arm of the student-loan financial-services corporation, and another $100,000 from a NASA grant.

The Daily News last Friday identified Albert "Al" Lord, the former CEO of Sallie Mae, as the source of the $1 million loan.

Fattah's odd tweet

Fattah's Twitter feed this week was chockablock with the typical self-promotion expected of any member of Congress seeking an 11th two-year term.

There were pictures of Fattah with President Obama and other Democrats, triumphant announcements about an Obamacare victory in a federal appeals court, video of floor speeches on pet projects and a photo of Fattah high-fiving Sheldon Adelson.

Wait - Sheldon Adelson?

As in: the GOP megadonor who backed former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich's failed 2012 bid for the Republican presidential nomination?

Stranger still was the context.

The state Republican Party on Wednesday tweeted a Daily News story about Fattah refusing to discuss the $1 million loan.

@ChakaFattah responded to @PAGOP, tweeting the Adelson picture and this: "In all my years as a Public Servant I have never engaged in illegal conduct. CF."

Why did Fattah post the Adelson picture, pulled from a 2012 meeting the two had on a federal neuroscience initiative?

That was another question Fattah did not answer this week.

Mike Barley, Gov. Corbett's campaign manager, took to Twitter last week to complain about the latest Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll, which showed Corbett down 25 points to Democrat Tom Wolf.

Almost every public poll has shown Wolf leading Corbett. A poll this week from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, sponsored by Total Trib Media, found Wolf leading Corbett by more than 30 points, 55.5 percent to 24.7 percent.

"Following an initial hit on the airwaves calling on Gov. Corbett to come clean about his links to oil and gas companies, NextGen Climate continues to monitor this race closely as Corbett's misplaced priorities currently see him lagging far behind his challenger."

- NextGen Climate, a super PAC funded in large part by billionaire Tom Steyer, which plans to spend $100 million to influence elections in seven states, including Pennsylvania. After an early $1.4 million ad buy, this state now sounds like an afterthought in the "Blueprint for Climate Victory" the group issued this week.

Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout


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