Bera Isn’t the First Congressman With Family Ties to Crime
Here are four members of Congress with relatives convicted of crimes
With his father pleading guilty to campaign finance fraud, California Rep. Ami Bera is poised to earn an ignominious distinction: a member of Congress with a relative who has been sent to prison.
Bera’s father Babual Bera, 83, pleaded guilty Tuesday to making more than $250,000 in illegal campaign contributions during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.
The younger Bera, a Democrat, said in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times that he and his campaign aides were unaware of his father’s activities before they were contacted by federal prosecutors. He said he was “incredibly saddened and disappointed in learning what my dad did.”
[Related: Ami Bera’s Father Pleads Guilty to Campaign Finance Fraud]
Bera’s father faces more than two years in federal prison when he is sentenced in August. Meanwhile, Bera must wage an already challenging re-election campaign with easy fodder for his Republican opponent, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones.
[What Happens When Political Spouses Misbehave]
But Bera wouldn’t be the only member of Congress to have a relative convicted of a crime if his father is convicted. Here are four others on the long list:
Chaka Fattah: After serving 11 terms in the House, Pennsylvania Rep. Chaka Fattah has experienced a rapid fall from grace, starting with his son’s November conviction on bank and tax fraud. Shortly after Chaka “Chip” Fattah Jr. was sentenced to five years in federal prison, the elder Fattah faced his own set of corruption charges that caused him to lose his seat this year. The congressman was indicted on 29 corruption charges for racketeering conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud. He lost his 2nd District primary in April to
state Rep. Dwight Evans
John Conyers Jr.: Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s wife Monica, a former Detroit councilwoman, served three years in prison after a 2009 bribery conviction. Monica Conyers filed for divorce in October, saying the 25-year marriage was broken beyond repair, the Detroit Free Press reported. Conyers’ attorney later told the paper that the congressman wanted a reconciliation . The paper reported last month that the couple was estranged .
Enid Greene Mickelsen (formerly Waldholtz): Former Utah Rep. Enid Greene M
ickelsen’s rapid ascent as one of the first women to carve out a prominent position in the Republican Party came to an abrupt end in 1995 when her husband Joe was charged with embezzling millions of dollars from her father, about $2 million of which was funneled into her 1994 campaign. In a tearful, five-hour news conference , Mickelsen apologized and said she had been duped. Joe Waldholtz pleaded guilty and was sentenced the next year to two years in jail. The Justice Department cleared Mickelsen, who divorced her husband and changed her name back to Greene, of any wrongdoing. She declined to seek re-election in 1996.
Harold Ford Jr.: Former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr. was serving his fifth term in the House and had just announced a run for Senate in 2005 when his uncle John Ford was swept up in one of the biggest political corruption scandals in Tennessee history. John Ford, a state senator, eventually served four years in federal prison for accepting bribes after he was caught on camera during an FBI sting that netted a total of 11 defendants, including several state and local officials. Harold Ford Jr., whose father served 22 years in the House, lost a close Senate race to current Sen. Bob Corker in 2006 and retired from the House in 2007.