Two days after being convicted of fraud charges by a jury of his peers, Chaka Fattah, Philadelphia’s 11-term Democratic congressman,announced his immediate resignation.
Fattah sent a letter Thursday to House Speaker Paul Ryan announcing he’s leaving his post, after Ryan had previously called forFattah’s immediate resignation, instead of previously announced plans to resign in three months.
“In my previous letter I indicated a later resignation date in order to provide for an orderly transition of my office after 21 years of service in the House,” he wrote Thursday. “However, out of respect for the entire House Leadership, and so as not to cause a distraction from the House’s work for the people, I have changed my effective date.”
The reversal came a day after Fattah’s announcement Wednesday, in which he said he would wait more than three months, or until the day before his sentencing is scheduled, to resign.
“I’m very sad about the results that the jury rendered yesterday and because of that, my resignation is effective October 3, 2016,” Fattah wrote in a letter dated June 22 and addressed to Ryan.
“Despite my resignation, I am working to clear my name of these charges and plan to mount an appeal,” Fattah continued in the letter.
Fattah used the letter to thank his colleagues for working with him for 21 years, his constituents and his family for “joining me on this incredible journey.”
He also used it to tout “achievements” from his service, citingthe American Opportunity Tax Credit, Equity and Excellence Commission, and the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative.
Joseph DeFelice, chairman of the Philly GOP, blasted Fattah’s decision to remain in office for months.
“His resignation will come after 3.5 monthsfrom now, the day before his sentencing on corruption charges, thereby ensuring he can collect a paycheck while continuing to do nothing to benefit his constituents,” DeFelice said in a statement. “This whole episode has been a stain on the city of Philadelphia.”
A spokesman for Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Wolf thinks Fattah should resign, the Inquirer reported, while Mayor Jim Kenney didn’t directly urge Fattah to resign, but said the district should have a member who can vote. House rules forbid members convicted of crimes from voting.
Fattah was convicted on 23 charges related to corruption involving using federal funds to repay a loan for his failed 2007 mayoral campaign and to pay off his son Chaka Fattah Jr.’s student loan debts.
Fattah Jr. was sentenced to five years in federal prison earlier this year on unrelated fraud charges.
State Sen. Dwight Evans beat Fattah in the April primary over the Democratic nomination for Congress in this November’s election. It remains unclear if a special election will be required to replace Fattah to serve out the remainder of his term.
Additional reporting by Alexis Sachdev