At the center of a 7-year-long federal probe, Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania told Congress this week that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed documents from his congressional offices.
The 10-term lawmaker who serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee said in a letter published in Tuesday’s Congressional Record that he intends to fight the subpoenas. He said he believes some of the information sought by prosecutors is protected by congressional privilege and that federal authorities are mishandling the matter.
“I think … there are improprieties, or what I perceive to be improprieties, in the conduct of it that could even stretch to illegalities,” Mr. Fattah told the Philadelphia Inquirer Wednesday, declining to elaborate. He added, “I’m going to seek appropriate review of it.”
Mr. Fattah said he would “otherwise comply … to the extent that compliance with the subpoena is consistent with the precedents and privileges of the House.” Congressional rules required him to disclose the subpoena. Under House procedures, the Speaker’s staff reviews such demands for documents.
Last fall, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Philadelphia subpoenaed records of city property taxes and utility bills for Mr. Fattah’s home in the East Falls section of the city. At the time, his attorney said the probe had been going on for seven years.
Federal investigators have reviewed “earmark” appropriations that Mr. Fattah sponsored in previous years for nonprofit groups linked to former staff members. Some officials from those groups told the Inquirer they were interviewed by investigators.
In January, a Justice Department audit found that nearly half of a $771,000 earmark sponsored by Mr. Fattah for a group called Philadelphia Safety Net went to Raymond T. Jones, the only employee of the nonprofit. Mr. Jones had served previously as a staffer for Mr. Fattah.
Mr. Fattah’s son, Chaka Fattah Jr. of Philadelphia, has also been under investigation by federal authorities for income tax and bank loan questions.