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December 02, 2016

Awaiting sentencing, Fattah launches neuroscience consulting group

So, what’s former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah been up to since his June conviction on racketeering, fraud and money laundering charges (besides collecting a pension)?

With sentencing in that case tentatively scheduled for December 12 –  and years of appeals expected to follow – Fattah told PhillyVoice that he’ll formally launch “Fattah Neuroscience Global Advisors LLC,” a consulting firm, on Monday.

What that means is that he’ll seek work with “foundations, universities, private companies (and others) … focused on providing a better life for many of the billion persons worldwide who suffer from brain illnesses,” according to a fact sheet about the business.

“I had to decide, at 60 years old, what to do because it wasn’t reasonable to think I’m just going to sit around, or ride my bike. I have to do something,” he said Friday morning. “I decided to have a beneficial impact in the world I live in. I still have to provide for my family. I could just go give speeches, but talking about things is different than going out and doing them.

“I’ve decided that for duration of my career, as a private citizen, I’m going to focus energies on brain science and health, which have been areas of my interest for a long time. I’ve been acknowledged for this work, been credited with being a thought leader on the issue as a public-policy matter.”

"It wasn’t reasonable to think I’m just going to sit around, or ride my bike. I have to do something." – Chaka Fattah

If it strikes you as unusual that Fattah would set this up at a time when he faces possible post-appeal imprisonment, there is precedent.

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell started a consulting company as his public-corruption convictions wound their way through the appeals process.

Here’s how Fattah Neuroscience Global Advisors, in start-up work for several months, is described:

We will focus on providing a better life for many of the billion persons worldwide who suffer from brain illnesses by utilizing the demonstrated transformational leadership experience, expertise and relationships of former Congressman Chaka Fattah and the serial entrepreneurial experience and expertise of Jim Baker to enable our clients to demonstrably contribute to understanding the brain and thereby providing solutions that will materially affect the lives of those that suffer from brain related diseases and injuries.

Continuing this work is therefore of the utmost importance to society and will require continued advocacy and strategic approaches to ensure that this focused effort continues domestically and abroad from both a governmental and private sector funding perspective.

Now, as part of leaving office – this goes for all elected officials, not just those who were convicted of crimes – Fattah is prohibited from lobbying his peers until June 23, 2017 (one year post-resignation).

He said this effort isn’t about lobbying, that it’s about advising clients in a private-sector capacity, anyway. This isn’t a Clinton Foundation-type deal, but more along the lines of Jimmy Carter teaming up with Habitat for Humanity.

“I’ve said many times that (brain research) is the most important work of my (political) career,” he said, noting that he’ll have to pitch clients on why they should hire him as a consultant. “I'll work as a sounding board and strategic adviser to a whole range of people from an eclectic background. If I can show I can add value, we’ll be retained.

“I just turned 60. Until the end of my effective work life, I’m going to be doing this as my principal vocation.”

Fattah declined to speak about the case, upcoming sentencing and nature of expected appeals.