Congressman Chaka Fattah

Incumbent Philadelphia Congressman Chaka Fattah, facing 29 counts of corruption, told a judge a week and a half ago that he was more focused on raising money for his re-election campaign in the 2nd District than for his legal defense.

Here’s why: Newly-filed year-end campaign finance paperwork shows the Democrat had less than $6,000 in his coffers as of Dec. 31.

There’s little improvement there from last time we heard about Fattah’s financial situation. At the end of October, Fattah had $2,607 on hand, but once outstanding debts were settled, he had a net balance of about $800. Since then, Fattah’s brought in about $14,700 in contributions from just a few individuals and PACs. 

In the last three months, Fattah has spent about $9,600 — largely on lawyers and consultants — and as of Dec. 31, had a debt of $1,785.50. leaving him with $5,887.80 on hand.

Now, what kind of cash are his competitors pulling in? State Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democrat challenging Fattah in the primary, had $303,000 on hand as of Dec. 31 (some 50 times what Fattah had) after pulling in nearly $360,000 in campaign contributions over the year and spending about $56,000 of it. Evans recently unveiled his first campaign ad:

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State Rep. Brian Sims, also challenging Fattah in the primary, had $181,000 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period after raising $230,000 and spending less than $50,000. Primary challenger Dan Murroff, a ward leader, had $208,569.77 on hand at the end of 2015 and Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon had $16,169.28.

All told, that’s $715,000 that these candidates are ready to spend on this race for U.S. Congress.

Here’s what the cash-on-hand situation looks like as of Dec. 31:

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Fattah, an 11-term congressman, faces a number of criminal charges stemming from an lengthy federal investigation into how he and his campaign for mayor in 2007 spent money. He’s vowed to fight the charges and says he’s innocent.

So at this point, who’s in the lead? A poll taken in January showed Evans beating Fattah in the congressional race primary; however, that poll was paid for by Evans.

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.