In late August, a great crack resounded across Philadelphia’s Democratic establishment when Gregory Naylor, a prominent political consultant, entered a guilty plea in federal court, implicating not only himself but also a U.S. congressman and several of his key allies in a sordid and complex fraud scheme involving taxpayer dollars and campaign finances.

The plea memorandum mentions only “Elected Official A,” but numerous details corroborate the identity of Representative Chaka Fattah, one of the most powerful men in Philadelphia. The son of a vocal Black Nationalist activist, Fattah cut his teeth in politics in the late 1970s at just 22 years old, running with a friend for election to the city commission. Though he lost that election, Fattah learned a valuable lesson about political organization and spent the subsequent decades building one of the most effective political machines in Philly, an effort that eventually won him not only local prestige but also 10 terms in Congress.

Naylor and Fattah have dominated the African-American faction of Philadelphia’s Democratic party and “have, for years, been major figures in the political discussion here, recognized for their ability to determine the outcome of races,” says Dan Fee, a political consultant who has worked for Ed Rendell, the former governor, and other major Pennsylvania candidates.

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