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Lawmaker’s son target of federal search
Question of the Day
Federal agents armed with search warrants took documents Wednesday from the home of the son of Rep. Chaka Fattah and the law offices of one of the son’s associates who owns a private school that does millions of dollars in business with the Philadelphia School District.
Agents from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service took the records from Chaka Fattah Jr., who lives at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Philadelphia. The younger Mr. Fattah, 29, runs a management consulting business called 259 Strategies LLC.
“Obviously the congressman stands by his son,” said Ron Goldwyn, the Pennsylvania Democrat’s press secretary. “However, the congressman and our office have no involvement in this matter.”
Rep. Fattah, in his ninth term representing west Philadelphia and nearby areas, is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
The younger Mr. Fattah did not return phone messages left for him on his home phone.
The agents also seized records from the law offices of David T. Shulick, president of Delaware Valley High School, a for-profit company that runs alternative schools for “at risk youth.” The younger Mr. Fattah’s firm does work for the company.
In an emailed statement, Mr. Shulick said he and the school “have nothing to hide” and have “fully cooperated” in the investigation. He said FBI and IRS agents were given documents “that were within Chaka Fattah Jr.’s office.” The investigators also took a computer from the younger Mr. Fattah’s office, according to Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for Mr. Shulick.
The younger Mr. Fattah worked out of Mr. Shulick’s law offices when he was doing business development for the high school, tying to recruit local school districts to agree to pay to send their at-risk students to the alternative school, Mr. Jubelirer said.
Mr. Shulick, who says he has “both a personal and professional relationship” with the congressman’s son, was told by federal agents that neither he, the school nor his law firm were targets of the federal probe, Mr. Jubelirer said.
A spokesman for the FBI did not return requests for comment and a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia said “we don’t confirm or deny investigations.” IRS spokeswoman Shauna Frye said only that IRS criminal investigators were at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton on Wednesday on official business.
It was unclear Wednesday what interest the FBI and IRS has in 259 Strategies, which describes itself as a full service management consulting firm serving clients in Philadelphia, the District and New York. The firm offers project management, community relations, technical assistance and operational support to a variety of clients.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, which first reported the raid, said federal authorities are trying to determine why 259 Strategies was paid $450,000 by Delaware Valley High School, which has received millions in contracts from the Philadelphia School District.
Mr. Shulick has ties to politicians from both parties. He and his wife, Cherie, have donated $68,240 to federal candidates and campaigns since 2007 including $13,900 to the elder Chaka Fattah and his political committees.
“Congressmen Fattah has been a big supporter [of the school],” said Mr. Jubelirer, adding that the congressman had been “helpful writing reference letters to school districts” that were considering contracting with Delaware Valley High School. He said that relationship predates the younger Mr. Fattah’s ties to the school.
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