PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Rep Chaka Fattah is vowing to run for re-election next year despite a federal racketeering indictment and says he expects to resume his leadership position on a powerful congressional committee by year's end.
The 11-term Democrat said Monday he is "innocent of any and all of these allegations," telling reporters he hasn't been involved in the misappropriation of funds as an elected official.
Fattah, 58, was indicted last week, accused of engaging in bribery, fraud, money laundering and other crimes involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Two of the four schemes alleged by prosecutors involve efforts to erase debts from Fattah's failed 2007 mayoral bid. Despite that, he said he had "no regrets" about the mayoral run.
Fattah referred to other members of Congress accused of wrongdoing who were later exonerated and criticized prosecutors for what he called "efforts to attack" his family. Fattah's wife, TV news anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah, hasn't been charged but was accused by prosecutors of involvement in a sham transaction involving a Porsche that she maintains was "a legitimate sale."
He also took issue with the accusation that a higher-education conference for which a former staff member obtained $50,000 in federal grants never took place.
"There was a conference. ... It took place. It's on video," he said.
Fattah has stepped down from his leadership post on the House Appropriations Committee but emphasized that he remains on the panel with seniority that will allow him to make a "tremendous impact" on the process.
"I believe by the end of the year we'll get some more clarity on this and I'll be able to resume my leadership position again," he said.
He is scheduled for an initial court appearance on Aug. 18, defense lawyer Luther Weaver III said Monday.
Also Monday, the House Ethics Committee announced that it voted unanimously last week to investigate the matter. House rules generally require the ethics panel to launch an official investigation when a lawmaker is indicted, and the bipartisan panel assigned several lawmakers to a special subcommittee. The committee, however, traditionally steers clear of actively pursuing cases while criminal probes are ongoing.
The Ethics Committee has the power to recommend Fattah be expelled, but it would take a vote of the full House to do so.