Judge tells Fattah to rethink campaign focus


 Fattah is an 11-term incumbent serving part of Philadelphia and a slice of Montgomery County-- he's  facing federal corruption and bribery charges.

Now his four-man legal team wants off the case.

They say they're not getting paid!

Fattah is accused of misusing campaign donations, grants and charitable contributions to line his pockets and those of his friends.

He insists he's innocent, but here's where it gets interesting. At a hearing today, his defense team told judge harvey bartle they want to quit the case-- that fattah made an initial deposit to them back in august, but since then has skipped several scheduled payments.

The congressman claims he has spent some 300-thousand dollars in legal fees since he and his family went under the fbi's microscope nearly a decade ago.

And he insists he will pay his bills.

But first, he says, he must fund-raise for his re-election campaign.

Fattah, a Democrat, faces a primary challenge in the wake of his criminal indictment.

               The judge did not rule today on whether the defense lawyers may quit the case, but he did admonish fattah, to  quote- think long and hard about his priorities.

The federal corruption trial is still set for May 2. 

                 As a Democrat in a safely Democratic district, Fattah has not had to stockpile cash to fight off primary opponents in the past, but several Democrats are challenging him this year. Campaign finance reports show that he has taken in just $13,500 since the July indictment, compared to the $69,000 and $72,000 in the previous two quarters.

   It was not immediately clear how much he had in any separate legal defense funds. A spokeswoman did not immediately return a message. Federal lawmakers can use campaign funds for legal bills as long as the allegations stem from their campaign or their official duties. 
   "It's difficult to understand why his legal bills should be paid with other peoples' money," Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric L. Gibson argued Tuesday.
   But Fattah said the Justice Department was also funded by other people. 
   "I'm not the first elected official to have a legal fund. I'm sorry he has a problem with that," Fattah said.
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