- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Washington political consultant and former partner of David Axelrod has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court and may cooperate with prosecutors in a long-running probe linked to powerful U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania Democrat.

Tom Lindenfeld, who was a close adviser to D.C. Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, admitted to the charge Wednesday in federal court in Philadelphia.

One day after Mr. Fattah garnered 87 percent of the vote to win his 11th term, Lindenfeld, 59, pleaded guilty in connection with an illegal $1 million loan he arranged for Mr. Fattah’s unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2007.

As part of the plea deal, Lindenfeld agreed to cooperate in the probe tied to Mr. Fattah, who has not been charged. Last summer, former Fattah aide Gregory Naylor admitted that he had lied to investigators about the $1 million campaign loan.

Mr. Fattah, who is described in court documents as “Elected Official A,” has denied any wrongdoing.

“It is disappointing that a second individual associated with me has pleaded guilty to wrongdoing,” Mr. Fattah said in a statement Wednesday. “I spent today thanking the citizens of my district for their vote of confidence. Those citizens can be assured that, as I previously stated, I have never been involved in any illegal conduct nor misappropriation of taxpayer funds.”

A spokeswoman for Lindenfeld said in a statement: “Tom takes full responsibility for his actions and regrets participating in illegal activity. He did not profit from this activity. He has and is cooperating fully with the government.”

Lindenfeld is a former partner of David Axelrod, the political consultant who is credited with guiding President Obama’s rise to national prominence from Chicago politics.

Ms. Bowser cut ties with Lindenfeld in August after his involvement in the Philadelphia probe came to light.

At a news conference Wednesday to discuss her election victory, Ms. Bowser said, “I don’t know anything about that case, to be honest with you, but it was troubling to me when I learned about it, and that’s why Mr. Lindenfeld hasn’t had a role in our campaign for many months.”

Court documents show that Lindenfeld, 59, arranged a secret $1 million loan from an unnamed businessman through his consulting firm to Mr. Fattah’s mayoral campaign. He admitted to taking part in a scheme to repay the money with “stolen charitable funds and federal grant money,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Fattah is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. Lindenfeld’s sentencing is scheduled for March 25.

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