A few days after Chaka Fattah was indicted for 29 counts of corruption last summer, union leader Patrick Gillespie said he didn’t know anyone who disliked Fattah.
“We were always impressed with his work ethic and his passion that he had for helping people,” Gillespie said. “And he was true to that up to and including the present time.”
The comment may have seemed overly generous given the circumstance but not in Philadelphia. This is a city where corrupt deeds go either unnoticed or quickly forgiven by fellow politicians. When longtime City Councilman Buddy Cianfrani died in 2002, he received a hero’s goodbye from past mayors, City Council members, judges and more. Nobody mentioned anything about the 110 counts of corruption to which he either pleaded guilty or no contest.
This apathy toward a criminal conviction has particularly proven to be the case with Fattah. After his indictment, several politicians talked about how sad they were for him. And after the conviction Tuesday, rather than call for Fattah to resign, the theme of passive sadness instead of blame continued.
Here’s a sampling of politicians who have continued to say nice things about Fattah from after his indictment and after his conviction.
Bob Brady, Congressman and Executive Director of the Democratic City Committee
After the indictment: “A lot of children are going to college because of him. It’s sad. I understand he’s resigned off the Appropriations Committee. Now we have nobody from the city of Philadelphia to watch our financial back.”
After the conviction: (Brady said “It’s his call” in terms of Fattah resigning): “I’ve known him 30 years. He’s done an awful lot of good for the city of Philadelphia, for the region, and for the United States. It’s a shame to have something like this happen.”
Dwight Evans, who is taking over Fattah’s seat
After the conviction: “A sad day for our area (and for Fattah and his family).”
Mayor Jim Kenney
After the conviction: Kenney declined to say Fattah should resign but said, “When the dust settles, you’ve got to give the person a day or so to kind of collect their thoughts and figure out what they want to do, but the district needs a voting member.”
Former Mayor Michael Nutter
After the indictment: “This is a very, very sad moment, certainly for Congressman Fattah and his family, and the others who were part of the indictment presentation today.”
Nancy Pelosi, California Representative
After the indictment: “The charges in the indictment against Congressman Chaka Fattah are deeply saddening. Congressman Fattah has been a tireless and effective advocate for America’s hardworking families across more than 20 years of distinguished service in the House.”
Former Governor Ed Rendell
“People think that people who run for office don’t have friends, that we do everything for some cynical purpose. But of my 10 best friends, five are people I never knew before entering politics. I would do anything for them.”
“If the allegations against the congressman are proven, he should be found guilty and go to jail. They’re serious charges.”
“I think these days it’s a federal crime to do almost anything.”