Early in his first term Barack Obama made the comment, “Those with nothing to hide, hide nothing.” How true it is. And now the number of Democrats seeking to have the contents of their private email accounts kept away from the prying eyes of federal investigators has grown by one more.
U.S. House Representative Chaka Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat, was charged in July on multiple counts of financial malfeasance. Fattah has been charged with racketeering, misusing campaign funds, using federal grants and charitable donations to repay a wealthy donor’s illegal $1 million campaign loan, funneling campaign funds toward his son’s student loan and basically misusing federal grant money under his control for personal enrichment. According to US News, “the indictment also charges four Fattah associates, including former staff members, with crimes and accuses his wife, a local TV anchor, of being linked to an $18,000 sham sale of a luxury car.” Fattah’s son, Chaka Fattah, Jr., has already been arrested and awaits trial on an overlapping case that includes charges he misspent $930,000 in federal education funding. (Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?)
As a part of his defense, Fattah has attempted to hide behind the “speech and debate clause,” a provision of the Constitution meant to prevent the executive branch of government from overly-meddling in legislative affairs, by invoking it to keep messages in his Gmail account off-limits to investigators. On Wednesday a 3-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals smacked that defense completely out of the known universe ruling that Fattah cannot keep federal investigators out of his Gmail inbox by claiming such congressional privilege.
In writing the court’s opinion, Judge Julio Fuentes said “speech and debate” was not an all-purpose shield to protect lawmakers and that members of congress “are not ‘super-citizens’ who are immune from criminal liability or process.”
Yet another member of our permanent political class, Fattah is serving his 11th term (that’s 22 human years) in Congress and rather than be embarrassed by his actions in office has vowed to fight and beat the federal charges then run for and win a 12th term in office.
Term limits, anyone?
[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn]