Pennsylvania: DA Apologizes for Undisclosed Gifts
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams belatedly reported $160,050 in gifts from political and legal connections, raising conflict of interest concerns and prompting an August 19, 2016 apology from the prosecutor to his staff.
In an email, Williams apologized for any “distractions” created by the “adverse publicity” surrounding his unreported monetary enrichment. The DA’s financial records detailed six years’ worth of gifts, including $45,000 in home repairs, sideline passes to Eagles games, luxury vacations and cash. Some of the donors included members of Williams’ security detail, an attorney who was later elected to a judgeship and football executives who had seen players investigated by the DA’s office.
Mustafa Rashed, a campaign spokesman for Williams, said the district attorney was “more concerned about the late disclosure filings being the news and a distraction to the dedicated 600 men and women in the DA’s office, which is why he sent the email.”
Richard Hoy, a longtime Philadelphia lawyer who has defended many people facing prosecution by Williams’ office, said that when he allowed Williams’ family to vacation at his Key West, Florida beach house, “I never considered it a gift. I considered it a friend using my home. That’s all.”
“It’s a total inability to understand the nature of conflicts of interest by a public official who has important responsibilities concerning conflicts of interest,” noted Gregory M. Harvey, a former chair of the city’s Ethics Board. When asked if a reporter could speak to staffers in the DA’s office, spokesman Cameron Kline said they would not comment further.