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Ethics Board Stands By Its Executive Director

Richard Glazer, chairman of the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, just told PhillyClout that the agency's executive director, Shane Creamer, still enjoys his full faith and support.

Richard Glazer, chairman of the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, just told PhillyClout that the agency's executive director, Shane Creamer, still enjoys his full faith and support.  Glazer was responding to a call this morning from City Councilwoman Marian Tasco for Creamer to be removed from his job.  He was also responding to criticism from Mayor Nutter about how the Board of Ethics investigated Creamer, who turned himself in last month for violating his agency's rules on confidentiality of ongoing investigations.  The board fined Creamer $500.

"We are satisfied with the nature and the scope and the results of our evaluation," Glazer said. "We are ready to move on."

Creamer told PhillyClout he has no intention of resigning. "I'm proud of the work we do at the board," he said. "And I'm proud of our accomplishments."

After the jump, you can read the media release put out by the Board in response to Tasco and Nutter.

For Immediate Release:
June 4, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - This press release is issued in response to this morning's call by Councilwoman Marian Tasco for the resignation of the Board's Executive Director, Shane Creamer. As the basis for her statement, Councilwoman Tasco identified Mr. Creamer's admission that he violated a confidentiality rule, which led to the attached settlement with the Board of Ethics on May 29, 2009 and subjected Mr. Creamer to a $500 fine.

The Board rejects any notion that Mr. Creamer's resignation is warranted on the facts of this case and has full confidence in the integrity and effectiveness of Mr. Creamer as its Executive Director.

As set forth in more detail in the settlement agreement, on May 7, 2009, Mr. Creamer received a call from a reporter seeking to confirm a rumor that the Ethics Board was fining Seth Williams $16,000; out of concern that the reporter might take "no comment" as confirmation that there was an investigation and publish a story before the Williams Campaign and the Board had the opportunity to finalize their agreement and disclose the issue on their own terms, Mr. Creamer advised the reporter confidentially that the parties were negotiating a settlement that would probably be announced the following week. Mr. Creamer made this statement while en route to work and with the intent to preempt the reporter's publication of a story before the Williams Campaign and the Board had the opportunity to make their own disclosure. After hanging up, he realized he may have breached his confidentiality obligations and he took immediate remedial steps -- promptly disclosing the conversation to the attorneys for the Williams campaign, confirming with the reporter at the Williams Campaign's request that the reporter did not intend to publish a story, reporting back to the Williams Campaign on that conversation, and self-reporting the matter to the Chairman of the Board of Ethics.

The Board, for its part, commenced an investigation, enlisted the assistance of outside counsel, and recused Mr. Creamer from any role in the investigation or deliberations regarding the matter. Having concluded that Mr. Creamer's disclosure, however well-intentioned, violated the confidentiality requirement of the Philadelphia Code, the Board considered the penalties in prior settlements with the Board and determined that a penalty of $500, while more than some other settlements, was appropriate in this case. The Board then entered into the Settlement Agreement with Mr. Creamer, which the Board disclosed publicly on the same day it was executed.

The Board handled this matter in a proper and even-handed manner, demonstrating that there is one standard of ethics that the Board will apply equally to its staff and to third parties. Mr. Creamer, for his part, has been and continues to serve the Board with tremendous dedication and competence.

With Mr. Creamer's assistance, the Board, over the past two years, has conducted more than 35 investigations of violations of the City's ethics laws. These investigations have resulted in ten enforcement actions in the Court of Common Pleas as well as ten settlement agreements. The Board has secured $114,000 in fines and deterred untold other violations. Despite the budget cuts and limited resources it has been granted, the Board continues to play an essential role in the investigation and enforcement of the law in Philadelphia. His error in this instance was penalized appropriately, and the Board intends to look forward and continue its mission of vigorously and impartially enforcing the ethics and campaign finance laws.

The five-member, independent Philadelphia Board of Ethics was established by ordinance, approved by the voters in May 2006 and installed on Nov. 27, 2006. It is charged with providing ethics training for all city employees and enforcing city campaign finance, financial disclosure and conflict of interest laws, and has authority to render advice, investigate complaints and issue fines.