Congressman Chaka Fattah’s son subject of FBI raid

Standard

HAT TIP:  PHILLY.COM

Wed, Feb. 29, 2012, 11:52 AM

By Martha Woodall, Mark Fazlollah, Kristen A. Graham, and Joseph Tanfani

INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Federal authorities are investigating why a company owned by the son of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was paid $450,000 by an education firm that has received millions in contracts from the Philadelphia School District, according to sources familiar with the probe.

Agents from the FBI and U.S. Treasury Department served two search warrants early Wednesday for Chaka Fattah Jr.’s records, the first at his apartment at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton.

Shulick

They also seized Fattah’s records and a computer from the Logan Square law office of David T. Shulick. He is president of Delaware Valley High School, a for-profit company that contracts with school districts to educate students with discipline problems.

The younger Fattah, 29, known as “Chip,” is owner of a consulting company called 259 Strategies L.L.C. that works as a subcontractor for Shulick’s companies. Fattah Jr. has working space at the law office.

The $450,000 payment from Shulick’s company is more than 10 percent of the approximately $4 million that Delaware Valley will receive from the School District this year.

Ron Sarachan

“We are cooperating with the investigation,” said attorney Ronald A. Sarachan, who jointly is representing Fattah with Gregory P. Miller. “We’ve been in communication with the government.”

Sarachan said he was “hopeful” that the investigation would be quickly resolved.

Shulick, who was interviewed Wednesday morning by agents at his home, said he was told that neither he nor Delaware Valley were the focus of the investigation.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the school,” Shulick said. “We have nothing to hide, and we let them in and let them search [Fattah Jr.'s] office unfettered.”

In a later e-mailed statement, Shulick said Fattah Jr. “is being victimized merely because his last name is ‘Fattah.’ “

” . . . He is dealing with issues that nobody without the last name ‘Fattah’ would have to deal with,” Shulick wrote.

The FBI has been asking questions about Fattah Jr.’s business operations for at least a year.

In January 2011, agents went to the South Florida home of Mikel Jones, a lawyer and childhood friend of Fattah Sr., as part of an investigation into Jones’ finances.

During a daylong conversation, they also asked Jones why he had paid more than $90,000 to 259 Strategies and to American Royalty, another Fattah Jr. firm that provided luxury services to well-heeled clients, according to an FBI document that summarized the conversation.

It surfaced last year in a federal fraud case against Jones. He was convicted and is appealing.

Jones, who ran a personal injury law firm, told the agents that he hired the younger Fattah to help expand his business – and because Fattah had “access,” the document said.

The FBI said Jones told them Fattah “had some good ideas, but he could not remember any of them offhand.”

“I know what this looks like, but there was no quid pro quo,” Jones told the agents, the document said.

“Did I overpay him? Was it a good investment, strictly speaking? No, but I was desperate and he had access,” Jones said. The nature of that access was not described.

In an interview with The Inquirer last year, Fattah Jr. said his work for Jones had nothing to do with providing access to his father or anyone else.

“I came up with a lot of ideas,” he said. “Mr. Jones was a client of my concierge service, and I also acted as a management consultant in terms of finding new clients for his personal injury firm, period.”

Fattah declined to go into detail on his work for Jones, but said that many of the payments from clients were used to purchase goods or services for them. American Royalty charged membership fees.

“We might get a call at 3 a.m. saying a client needs a jet in the morning,” he said in a 2007 interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal. “We have access to one of the top private jet companies in the country, so we’re able to make that happen.”

In 2007, the Capital Grille restaurant in Philadelphia filed a police report alleging that American Royalty had failed to pay a $15,000 bill. Fattah settled the tab, saying it was run up by a client.

Federal agents arrived about 6:40 a.m. Wednesday outside Fattah’s home, and at Shulick’s office shortly after 10 a.m. They left the law office about 50 minutes later, carrying a Dell desktop computer and boxes of records.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation said that while some agents were serving search warrants and collecting documents at Fattah Jr.’s residence and the law office, other agents were conducting interviews with other people, including Shulick.

Shulick said he believes that the inquiry is focused on the younger Fattah, who has been doing work for Shulick since 2009, according to documents and interviews. Shulick said Fattah Jr. works as “a contracted employee” for the law firm, the school, and his charity, the Judith B. Shulick Memorial Foundation, named for his mother.

Last May, when Shulick threw out the first pitch at a Phillies game, Fattah Jr. posted a video on YouTube.

Earlier this month, Fattah Jr. appeared before the York City school board pitching a $1.5 million contract for Delaware Valley and describing himself as the company’s director of business development, according to a published report.

Rep. Fattah has been a supporter of Shulick’s schools as well.

He sought a $375,000 federal transportation grant to replace the school’s fleet with “green clean fuel burning vehicles,” according to his website. The grant was not approved.

Rep. Fattah, whose district covers parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, is the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and has long pushed for education funding.

“I stand by my son,” he said in a statement. “Nothing came of the request for funds, and my son had nothing to do with any request for funds.” He said he would “await the results of the investigation before making further comment.”

His spokesman, Ron Goldwyn, said the investigation does not involve Fattah Sr. or the congressional office.

Orgy of Ignorance

Standard

Voters in the nation’s capital city rebuked the President’s homie, Mayor Adrian Fenty.  Formally, we call what took place yesterday an election.  I call it an orgy of ignorance.  I am a race man to the core but what happened yesterday is unfathomable.

One of my home girls called me last night from D.C., and I asked her who she voted for.  The answer, of course, was Vincent Gray, the aging quadroon who is Chairman of the City Council.  I knew it was over without looking at a single return. I could not help berating her. Lacking conviction in her vote and stung by my attack she asked, “Why you ain’t call me?”  I should have said that I thought she had better sense than to throw out a decent brotha over a vague sense of racial grievance. The crap about gentrification and Fenty’s cabinet appointments are just blackfolks venting about the common misconception that Adrian is a House Negro too beholden to whitefolks.

Fenty’s loss is a triumph of style over substance because Gray certainly had no real programmatic objections that he chose to share. Fenty lost for two reasons:  1) His hard charging and humorless style rubbed too many the wrong way.  2) The unconscious desire of the black community to crucify a scapegoat because of their economic anxiety during this brutal recession.  Blackfolks convinced themselves that their black college educated Black Mayor with the black wife and kids did not care about black people.

I firmly believe that if Adrian Fenty had been caught by the FBI in a roach motel with a chickenhead and a crack pipe–he would have been re-elected in a landslide.  There would have been no question that Adrian was sufficiently black enough to vote for.  Functioning schools, tolerable crime, a responsive city government, and a healthy business climate are apparently anti-black instruments meant to oppress and demean black people.

I suppose having a Black Mayor who does not embarrass us with his extramarital affairs, ungrammatical profundity, and serial incompetence are a naïve expectation. I know it is unreasonable to expect that black folks would vote for a Black Mayor maniacally focused on making the city function properly by appointing people, regardless of race, who know what they are doing.

Fenty’s installation of Michelle Rhee, a Korean American, as Chancellor of the DC Schools, was a bridge too far. She single-handedly turned around one of the most catastrophically inadequate urban school systems in the country by demanding excellence and holding teachers accountable for black student success.  She even had the temerity to fire bad teachers.  We cannot have that. Rather than graduate school prepared for a career, it is better for the community if Black children drop out of school and remain trapped in a cycle of poverty. Politicians get bonus points if a disproportionate number of Black children end up dead or in jail.

Things were definitely better in the District during the halcyon days of the Barry Administration. Those were the days when the city was on autopilot. Nearly every city agency was under federal receivership because of gross mismanagement, and a congressionally appointed control board unaccountable to the people controlled the purse strings.   At least Barry was pro-Black, whatever that is supposed to mean.

Writing A Book

Standard

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at book writing because blogging has become a bit of a chore.  With the release of Harold Whore, Jr’s political memoir More Davids Than Goliaths, I finally have an excuse to write a book on a topic which would give each day a purpose it presently doesn’t have.  I hope to finish by end of the year.

I’ve already got a title, outlined my chapters,  written the preface, begun compiling research and started the first chapter. This book will write itself because it is fueled by the seething contempt I harbor for the bottom feeding Corporate Whore from Memphis.

Wish me luck.  If you have any suggestions, let a Skeptical Brotha know.

“Victory”

Standard

On the cusp of a landmark “victory” on health care reform, President Obama dramatically addressed a boisterous throng of well-wishers convinced that his industry written reforms constituted positive change. The President glowed and fed off the positive energy in the air. He seemed revitalized and renewed as the crowd roared its approval.  The president’s earnest entreaties are beguiling and difficult to resist.  The recession weary public desperately wants to believe that “change we can believe in” is at last on the way. It isn’t.

Many on the left in the progressive blogosphere believe that “change we can believe in” was killed in the crib. The corporate infanticide of change was facilitated by a conspiracy between the Administration and the insurance lobby that gutted the public option, instituted weak cost controls, enforced a mandate to buy private insurance and left the anti-trust exemption, which allows insurance companies to engage in the most egregious price gouging, largely intact.  The reality leaves me drained and dispirited.

The average black person I meet is trapped in a post inaugural cocoon of black pride.  Any constructive criticism of the President provokes a defensive scorn, as if you called their upstanding, god fearing, churchgoing grandmama a trifling whore.  The relationship between the Obamas and the black community is not political but familial. They meet every benchmark of acceptability and are like the new bougie couple that just joined the church that everybody wants to get to know. We see ourselves in them.  Unfortunately, we’ve become so lost in the reflection of ourselves that we failed to notice that the black community is drowning in an ocean of narcissistic b.s. and benign neglect.

The Stockholm syndrome is so profound that if the Congressional Black Caucus had determined to sink Health Care Reform without a public option, blackfolks would have eaten them alive.  Some folk seem to think that God put them here on earth to be Obama’s pep squad.  The President may be black, but he is also a politician like all those that came before him who told us what we wanted to hear and then broke their backs to do the bidding of their corporate paymasters.

The absence of a real urban agenda, what some refer to as a “black agenda,” is a festering wound that will never heal without progressive policy solutions that address the corporate theft of predatory lending, support for mass transit, massive infrastructure improvement,  job training programs, de-escalation of both the prison and military industrial complexes and support for public education.  The president has done some good work on the education piece with a reform of student loans, but much more needs to be done.

Don’t get me wrong, the stimulus was a tremendous help in stabilizing the economy, but we are in such a deep hole that we need much more. Everybody knows that there ain’t no damn jobs out here. State budgets are still tight and teacher layoffs, public school closings, and the loss of thousands of state and local government jobs is still a daily reality. The president damn near had to fight the civil war all over again with some ignorant Republican from Kentucky just to extend unemployment benefits for a short time.

Here in the Carolinas, Republicans  in the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to the eliminate  state support for the entire budget for HIV/AIDS  prevention and assistance. That also includes the AIDS drugs assistance program that provides a lifeline to HIV positive people who cannot afford their anti-retroviral medications.  Republicans are the same people that spread the death panels red herring they claimed was embedded in Obama’s health care reform bill that would “pull the plug on grandma.”

The political calculus implied by this heartless proposal is that the people in the program are not Republicans and that helping them extend the quality and duration of their lives is unnecessary and too expensive.  Given the disproportionate numbers of HIV infections in black South Carolinians (8 times that of Whites), the racial animus behind this move is crystal clear. South Carolina has the eighth highest rate of new  HIV infections in the country and the Republicans in the South Carolina legislature would rather pretend that this isn’t a problem as HIV ravages the black community unchecked.

The Health Care Reform proposal making its way through congress will do nothing to stop state governments from making draconian choices like South Carolina.   I pray it will provide something commensurate in the way of relief for the victims of state sanctioned indifference.  Health Reform still leaves out 24 million people from coverage because health care, despite the histrionics of the socialist obsessed right-wing, is still not a right.

The gluttonous plutocracy that masquerades as American Democracy is alive and well. If we truly want the victory over our corporate overlords, we need to stop putting our trust in personalities and parties and stick with our principles.

Kilpatrick claims she’s not a target of federal investigation

Standard

Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

Hat Tip: Deb Price and paul egan / The Detroit News

Washington — Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, said Thursday she and a top aide are not targets of a grand jury and will “cooperate fully” after receiving subpoenas.

In addition to Kilpatrick, her aide Andrea Bragg received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury in the Eastern District of Michigan. The congresswoman’s son is former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose actions as mayor are being investigated by federal prosecutors.

Kilpatrick said she’ll have no further comment.

Though grand jury matters are secret, legal observers said Thursday it is likely the subpoenas relate to an ongoing federal investigation of the congresswoman’s son, and possibly her ex-husband, business consultant Bernard N. Kilpatrick.

There is no legal privilege that makes communications between a mother and son confidential, and the spousal privilege would only apply up to the time Bernard Kilpatrick and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick were not divorced, said Detroit attorney David Griem, a former federal and state prosecutor.

Griem speculated the subpoenas may be related to recent cash fundraising involving tens of thousands of dollars to cover the former mayor’s restitution payments that Cheeks Kilpatrick was involved in, according to media reports.

“I’m not sure of the propriety of a U.S. congresswoman spearheading such an effort on behalf of a family member, especially when the money is given in cash,” Griem said Thursday.

Most of Kilpatrick’s recent restitution payments from his state obstruction of justice conviction came in the form of money orders, many purchased by family members. Griem said he wouldn’t be surprised if everyone who purchased those money orders was subpoenaed before the grand jury.

Feds subpeona Congresswoman Kilpatrick and congressional aide

Standard

Hat Tip: Deb Price / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and a top aide have been served with grand jury subpoenas requesting testimony in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, notified House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the subpoena in a letter March 1 but made it public Wednesday.

“After consulting with my attorney, I will make the determinations required” under House rules about how to respond, the congresswoman wrote in the March 1 letter. Members are required to report being subpoenaed, and the House clerk read Cheeks Kilpatrick’s notice as is customary.

The reading did not explain the matter in which she was being subpoenaed.

Cheeks Kilpatrick’s office said they had no comment on the subpoena or its contents.

The congresswoman’s son is former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose actions as mayor are being investigated by federal prosecutors.

Kwame Kilpatrick’s new spokesman, Mike Paul, who is from a New York public relations firm, said this morning that Kwame Kilpatrick has made no comment about his mother being served a grand jury subpoena.

Cheeks Kilpatrick office manager Andrea Bragg disclosed her subpoena to House officials March 1. The notice was published Tuesday in the Congressional Record.

Bragg said she would comply with the subpoena while Cheeks Kilpatrick said she is consulting an attorney on how to respond.

Hansen Clarke to Challenge Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

Standard

Michigan State Senator Hansen Clarke, according to his facebook page, is gathering volunteers and gearing up to challenge Michigan Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of scandal plagued former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. It is my contention that Mrs. Kilpatrick is in serious danger of losing her seat in the August Primary.

Mrs. Kilpatrick’s favorable ratings are in the toilet. According to the last poll taken in August,  her re-elect number is 27%, which is beyond toxic.   The recent headlines surrounding her son’s refusal to pay restitution to the city following the sex-scandal that drove him from office and the imminent joint indictment of her son and ex-husband, cannot possibly have helped matters.

The former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus is facing a formidable challenger.  Clarke, 52, a biracial brotha of East Indian and African American descent, is a gifted, low-key politician with a progressive record of achievement in the Michigan Legislature. Clarke sponsored legislation to impose a two-year moratorium on foreclosures that disproportionately plague black and brown communities.  Moreover, he introduced a bill to expand hate crimes laws to protect those targeted on the basis of sexual orientation or gender expression.   Clarke challenged Kwame for Mayor in 2005 and made a brief run for Governor this year before he ended his candidacy.  This is a race he can win.  If he goes forward and files, and has the field all to himself, the odds are heavily in his favor.

I’ll have more to say about this in a later post.