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Dem Strategist Pleads Guilty to $15M Green Grant Scheme

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Political consultant Thomas Lindenfeld has pleaded guilty to fraud and corruption charges involving illegal funneling of $15 million of federal grants to a shell “environmental” group with the help of “Elected Official A,” the Justice Department (DOJ) announced Wednesday. In the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, Lindenfeld pleaded to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in a fraud and corruption scheme related to illegal campaign contributions.

In exchange for routing one million dollars of illegal campaign contributions to “Elected Official A” – who news reports now identify as Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Chaka Fattah – Lindenfeld would receive $15 million of federal grant money for his “Blue Guardians” environmental group.

In his grant questionnaire, Lindenfeld described Blue Guardians as “an environmental education and coastal heritage preservation effort working in poor communities along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, as well as the U.S. islands of the Caribbean Seas.”

But, the group applied for the grant before it even existed, and never actually did any work. When government officials began to question Lindenfeld’s initial $500,000 grant payment, Lindenfeld declined the money.

The DOJ’s guilty plea memorandum explains (emphasis added):

“On or before February 20, 2009, defendant THOMAS LINDENFELD and others known to the United States Attorney, at the direction of Elected Official A, submitted to the Appropriations Committee of the United States House of Representatives an “FY 2010 APPROPRIATIONS PROJECT QUESTIONNAIRE” which sought 15 million dollars in federal funding for “Blue Guardians.” In the completed questionnaire, defendant LINDENFELD and others stated that “Blue Guardians is an environmental education and coastal heritage preservation effort working in poor communities along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, as well as the U.S. islands of the Caribbean Seas.”

“On or before February 20, 2009, Lindenfeld and others at LSG, at the direction of Elected Official A, submitted to the Appropriations Committee of the United States House of Representatives an “FY 2010 APPROPRIATIONS PROJECT QUESTIONNAIRE” which sought 15 million dollars in federal funding for “Blue Guardians.” The completed questionnaire stated that “Blue Guardians is an environmental education and coastal heritage preservation effort working in poor communities along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, as well as the U.S. islands of the Caribbean Seas.” “Blue Guardians” did not, in fact, exist at this time.”

A sentencing hearing for Lindenfeld is scheduled for March 25, 2015 with U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III.

As for Rep. Fattah, who was reelected on Tuesday, for the past seven years, he has been fighting a federal investigation of “earmark” appropriations for nonprofit groups linked to former staff members he has sponsored.

Lindenfeld has been praised by the Washington Post for his “passion” and being “that rare breed of paid strategist who delves in the fun house otherwise known as District politics.”

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