U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah’s attorney has given up on the cash-strapped congressman for treating the representation basicially like a pro-bono relationship.
Since August, attorney Thomas Fitzpatrick wrote in a new filing, he’s made several court appearances and filed more than a dozen motions to defend Fattah against a 29-count federal corruption indictment. But he said he never received the payments he expected.
“In persisting in the refusal to pay the agreed-upon attorney’s fees, the defendant has provided several preferred payment arrangements, and has knowingly defaulted upon each,” Fitzpatrick wrote.
Fitzpatrick said he can’t prepare for Fattah’s May trial — hiring experts and consultants, readying documents, traveling — without compensation.
Fattah, indicted on federal corruption charges, asked that the motions describing Fitzpatrick’s departure be sealed, keeping the information out of the public eye, but Judge Harvey Bartle denied that request.
A review of the 11-term congressman’s last campaign finance report reveals that his coffers were nearly empty. As of Sept. 30, Fattah had just $2,607 on hand to mount a re-election effort. That sum, according to one consultant speaking to WHYY, amounts to “the Eagles going into a game with only one quarterback.”
Fattah hasn’t faced a competitive primary race for Congress since 1994, the first year he was elected to serve the 2nd Congressional District. April’s Democratic primary contest is shaping up to be a little different.
State Reps. Dwight Evans and Brian Sims are running in the primary, along with Philadelphia ward leader Dan Muroff and Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon. Recently, Evans released a poll indicated that he was edging out Fattah, but the congressman shrugged it off as a paid gimmick.
Recently, Fattah and other co-defendants in his case filed a flurry of motions asking the judge to dismiss some of the charges in connection with a scheme federal investigators characterized as a quid-pro-quo relationship. Prosecutors also accused Fattah of repaying a $1 million loan that assisted him in his unsuccessful 2007 mayoral bid with public money.
In a statement, Fattah said he thanks Fitzpatrick for “excellent representation,” saying his work “will have a significant impact in proving my innocence in this case.”
Fattah says he’s spent more than $300,000 so far in defending himself against the charges, including $100,000 to the Fitzpatrick’s firm.
“I will be naming replacement counsel in the very near future,” Fattah added.
A hearing on his change of counsel has been set for Tuesday at 10 a.m.