Lobbyists and lobbying organizations gave money to former Rep. Chaka Fattah through the end of April of this year, nine months after he was indicted in a racketeering conspiracy that later ended the Pennsylvania Democrat's congressional career, according to contribution disclosures filed with the Senate.
In June 2016, a federal jury in Philadelphia convicted Fattah of conspiracy, money laundering and of using campaign funds to pay off his son’s student loans, forcing his resignation from the House. In total, the congressman’s campaign received 15 donations from lobbyists after his indictment. He also received additional contributions in his name through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which he chaired.
Even with negative press, businesses and organizations with close ties to members may be inclined to continue supporting them, said Paul Miller, the president of the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics, a professional society for lobbyists.
“In this town, it’s hard to find people who will stick by you through thick and thin,” Miller said. “But there are a number of people who will.”
After resigning, lawmakers can continue to spend their campaign funds. In some situations, they can transfer the money to their legal defense funds.
The contributions that came Fattah’s way after his indictment totaled $29,000. Three organizations — the Communications Workers of America, the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, and the American Federation of Teachers — each gave Fattah $5,000 in the months after his indictment. Nine others cut checks of $1,000 or more.
Asked why the teachers gave to Fattah, a spokeswoman for the union said the congressman was a “longtime supporter of Philadelphia public schools and our members.”
It’s not unprecedented for a member of Congress to receive donations from lobbyists while staring down scandal.
Former Republican Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois received contributions after reports emerged of him using taxpayer and campaign funds for personal travel. Lobbyists also continued giving to another former GOP representative, Michael G. Grimm of New York, after he was indicted in April 2014 on 20 counts related to his management of a Manhattan restaurant.