A few days ago a reader asked for more pieces about corruption. Unfortunately we see it all too often and it took less than 48 hours to find a fresh example. Seth Williams, Philadelphia’s district attorney, isn’t going to jail for what you’re about to read but it is a form of corruption nonetheless.
From yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer:
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams on Monday reported receiving $160,050 in gifts from 2010 to 2015, a financial windfall he previously omitted from mandatory annual statements of financial interests. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams on Monday reported receiving $160,050 in gifts from 2010 to 2015, a financial windfall he previously omitted from mandatory annual statements of financial interests.
Yes, a lawyer who has spent much of his career in the public sector overlooked $160,000 in “gifts” over a five-year period.
As Dana Carvey’s “church lady” would say, how conveeeeeeenient.
So, what did Williams receive?
Williams reported receiving a free $45,000 roof repair on his home from a New Jersey builder, cash gifts of $1,500 and $10,000 from friends, and $20,800 in free airfare and lodging for vacations to Key West, Las Vegas, Virginia, and the Dominican Republic.
Williams also received $10,000 in travel expenses for an Eisenhower Fellowship program in Australia and South Africa, $5,000 from the Ministry of Justice of Thailand to travel there to teach leadership classes, and free trips to several state and national prosecutorial forums.
And what did he have to say about this?
I believe that it is very important to provide the citizens of Philadelphia with a greater foundation of trust in their elected officials.
You’d think that kind of trust would come from reporting the gifts the year he received them rather than years after.
Let’s take a closer look at the gifts (again, as reported by the Inquirer):
Roof repairs, windows, and insulation, valued at $45,000, from Mike Palmieri of Lynmar Builders in New Jersey.
Lodgings valued at $1,000 per visit for four years at a Key West, Fla., house owned by Philadelphia lawyer Richard Hoy.
Airfare of $1,000 to Key West for each of those visits, paid by Bill Weiss, owner of Woody’s Bar in Center City. Weiss is also listed as giving Williams $1,500 in cash in 2015, paying $2,000 for a 2013 trip to Las Vegas, and paying $2,000 each for 2012 and 2014 trips to San Diego.
$2,930 in Phillies and 76ers tickets, $1,500 for two trips to Atlantic City, and $1,500 in Visa gift cards from Scott DiClaudio, a high school friend who was elected a Common Pleas Court judge in 2015 with Williams’ support.
A $3,000 trip in 2012 to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, along with a $300 iPad and a $2,700 couch, all paid for by Mohammad N. Ali.
The Curmudgeon finds one gift, and Williams’ explanation for not reporting it, especially entertaining.
Two complimentary all-access sideline passes for the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 Eagles seasons. Williams listed that the passes did not include seats and so had “no face value.”
Right, because any fan given free sideline passes for five football seasons would agree they had “no face value.”
Even the district attorney’s attorney found his client’s actions appalling.
Here’s hoping Philadelphia’s voters do, too, the next time they see Williams’ name on the ballot.