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Fattah, Chaka (1956 - )

Image Courtesy of the US Congress

Pennsylvania Congressman Chaka Fattah was born Arthur Davenport on November 21, 1956 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  His parents, David Fattah (born Russell Davenport) and Sister Falaka Fattah (born Frances Brown) are community activists in West Philadelphia.  Chaka Fattah attended Overbrook High School in the city and then the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government where he received a Master of Governmental Administration (MGA) degree in 1986.

In 1983 Fattah was elected as a Democratic Representative to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  He served until 1988 when he won a seat in the Pennsylvania state senate.   In 1994 Fattah was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives after defeating incumbent Congressman Lucian Blackwell in the Democratic Primary for Pennsylvania’s Second Congressional District.  Fattah won the seat over token Republican opposition in November 1994.    

While in the U.S. House of Representatives Fattah has served on Appropriations Committee and is on the following subcommittees: Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies, Homeland Security and the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee.  Fattah is also the new Chairman of the Congressional Urban Caucus.  In this position his focus is on public safety, employment, education, transportation, housing, health, and the strengthening of the U.S. infrastructures.  Fattah is a well-known opponent of the Iraq War and has supported fellow Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha’s call for troop withdrawal.

Congressman Fattah is also the creator of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).  This program promotes college attendance among the nation’s most impoverished students.  GEAR UP has become the largest pre-college awareness program in the nation’s history and has given more than $2 billion toward the educational advancement of low-income students.   In addition to GEAR UP, Fattah has made it possible for all Philadelphia graduating seniors in need to be eligible for scholarships if attending Pennsylvania state institutions.  Fattah has made education one of his first priorities as shown in his actions as U.S. Representative.

In 2007 Fattah launched an unsuccessful bid for Mayor of Philadelphia.  Fattah lives in Philadelphia with his second wife, Renee Chenault-Fattah, a Philadelphia television news broadcaster.

On June 21, 2016, a federal jury convicted Fattah, 59, of bribery, mail fraud, and 27 other charges including misappropriating campaign, charity, and taxpayer money. He resigned from Congress two days later.  Fattah had run for reelection in the 2016 Democratic Primary but lost to State Representative Dwight Evans before his bribery trial began.

Sources:
Official House Website:  http://www.house.gov/fattah/;Congressional Votes Database at the Washington Post:  http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/f000043/;Congressional Biography: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=f000043

Contributor:

University of Washington, Seattle

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