Incorporating the The Germantown Chronicle & The Northwest Independent

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The trial of U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah on corruption charges built around using his authority to make federal appropriations seeming to fund the most needy, pass through front entities for laundering, then working their way back to paying his own and his family expenses, started this week. The local press is following the story that seems to be shaping up around him blaming others and staffers for concocting the scams without his knowledge.

Now, some who read the story may find it outrageous that federal dollars from a U.S. Congressman in amounts that approaching $1 million could possibly find their way back to his own pocket with the help of some very credible individuals in the party hierarchy, and some well-known local nonprofit executives. But I contend this is only "business as usual" in Philadelphia politics and certainly the way federal public money was dispensed by Fattah for years. The only difference between what this case suggests (and many others where Fattah was the source of approval for the use of millions in federal dollars) is that the money for years was dispensed without even the most fundamental oversight and compliance. It was laundered by at least intentional omission on the part of the regulators, or the investigations were squashed by those at the very top of federal and local law enforcement.

Fattah continuously claims that “funding” was his primary accomplishment over his 11 terms in Congress. Next to golfing, that is probably correct as to what he is most known for by those who have closely followed his career. The questions never answered properly are: Why the money either went to elitist organizations that were already among the best funded in the city; why many of those entities he funded used the money outside of compliance and eventually went bankrupt without completion of investigations already started being completed; and why he did very little to rebuild his home neighborhood and watched it circle the drain of crime and no opportunity to the point it is now considered the largest area of deep poverty in the nation.

During his trial, I will tell, from many years of following the trail of The Best Congressman Money Can Buy, how his practices became the model for how the extremely corrupt Philadelphia Democratic Party operated. You draw your own conclusions why so many who claim to be good government Democrats and claim to be Reform Republicans let it continue for so long raising no outcry whatsoever; as neighborhood after neighborhood became blighted on the one hand and easy prey to poverty profiteering and fertile ground for merchandising misery for the residents, but large continuous streams of financial reward for Fattah’s staffers, funders and friends.

For those who are not aware, Fattah long ago left his roots in West Philadelphia and resides with his high profile second wife on the edge of Germantown and East Falls, right next to the toney Penn Charter School. While some of his funding made the news from time to time, the millions that did not end up in university city were quietly sent to nearby Germantown through Germantown Settlement..

Now, Fattah’s spent much of his career rubbing elbows with the city’s elites and university types, and they were the recipients of a very large percentage of the federal funds he took credit for. In fact during one period in 2011/2012, where I kept track from his own press releases, he sent U of P the equivalent of $1 million a week. At one time he had a very upscale office on their campus. Wonder what that grand old historic palace cost him a month — if anything?

Fattah’s approval of federal funds through HUD and other agencies went to the 27 corporation monopoly known as Germantown Settlement, a former Quaker social service organization that sold itself out to some very slippery local politicians who turned it into a huge real estate conglomerate with a good number of city funded services arranged by Northwest politicians and the mayor’s and controller’s office.

These 27 corporations mostly had the same officers who just played musical chairs with the specific titles they held, and a very good friend in Herb Wetzel (today “real estate advisor” to City Council) at the helm of the Redevelopment Authority feeding them free or near free properties from the city under some very murky circumstances. The funding to repurpose much of this real estate came from entities that had appropriations through Fattah, the area congressman and Appropriations Chair at the same time. Over a long period of time, as much as $400 million or more was reportedly appropriated and the vast majority of it disappeared into entitles without required regular compliance documents or annual legitimate reporting to the funding agencies or the IRS as nonprofits or for profits.

A major investigation into this multi-year funding scam with federal dollars was shut down under some very mysterious circumstances that will be part of our expanded coverage of Mr. Fattah’s past activity.

Look for regular chapters in the Fattah story from The Independent Voice on a daily basis parallel with his trial.

Bear in mind that the politician who is being groomed by the machine as his replacement, Dwight Evans, has done the very same thing over the years with State money.

Jim Foster

The Independent Voice