U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, made his first court appearance on Tuesday, proclaiming his innocence on corruption charges early and often during a brief hearing.
Fattah is accused of accepting bribes, using federal funds to repay campaign debts and using campaign contributions to pay his son's student loan debts.
"You understand that you don't have to say anything?" U.S. Magistrate Timothy Rice said at the beginning of the hearing.
"I would like to say that I'm not guilty," Fattah said.
"We haven't gotten there yet," Rice replied.
Arraignment hearings are usually formalities in which a judge sets bail, and the defendant hears a formal reading of the charges.
Fattah went on to plead not guilty at the appropriate time, and then at least one other time during the 15 minute hearing. He did it again before a gaggle of reporters waiting outside the federal courthouse for him.
"The contract I have with my community, the warranty’s still good," Fattah said. "I would never do anything to embarrass them."
The 29-count indictment announced in July says that Fattah and four others used sham contracts, charitable contributions and in one instance, a non-existent entity to enrich himself and his friends.
Bail for the congressman was set at $100,000 but he was not required to post it, meaning that if he commits a crime or violates the conditions of bail, he might have to pay $100,000. He was also ordered to surrender his personal passport, but not the diplomatic one he uses for congressional travel.
Prosecutors asked that Fattah be ordered not to contact witnesses in the case. Fattah's lawyers didn't agree because they said they don't know who the witnesses are. Prosecutors are expected to submit a list in the coming days.