Chaka Fattah-Supported Nonprofits Employed His Friends
Today’s Daily News has a long, well-researched story by William Bender about the goings on at several nonprofits connected to U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah.
In August, former Fattah chief of staff Gregory Naylor admitted to diverting campaign funds to help pay off college loans for “Elected Official A” (widely reported as Fattah). Fattah Jr. has been indicted, accused of defrauding the IRS, the School District and others. Fattah is on the “hot seat.”
The DN story details several non-profits that Fattah has funneled federal money to as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. Surprise: His friends and former staffers all work at them. If you’re a Philadelphian, you know this is how politics works. The problem with the non-profits detailed in this story is they all seem to have spent their money in such a way to provide the best copy for tabloid newspapers.
Some examples of expenditures at non-profits Fattah has directed federal money to:
- Prosecutors said the Educational Advancement Alliance — which runs a badass sounding science bus called the “Chaka Fattah Learning Lab” — paid former Fattah state senate chief of staff Cheryl Mobley $107,000 in 2005 and 2006. “She drove a luxury van with a foldout leather sofa and flat-screen TV, but told the judge that she was studying for a divinity degree, according to the Inquirer.” Hey, divinity school ain’t cheap.
- An audit found the head of Philadelphia Safety Net, a gun buyback program, “paid himself” an “unreasonable” salary and used money for “personal activities.”
- An EPA audit questioned the educational value of trips organized by Caribbean-American Mission for Education, Research and Actions. The head of CAMERA (fantastic acronym!) is James P. Baker Jr., a friend of Fattah’s since high school. The EPA audit found “less than half the time was spent on environmental-related activities.”
- A nonprofit Fattah has funded through earmarks owns the building his district office leases space in.
It’s a thorough and entertaining Daily News story, especially for one about federal funding of nonprofits through earmarks. It also ends with the note that Fattah will be easily re-elected next month.