Clout: Seth Williams' summer of discontent
The D.A. is caught in a political rip current, the feds go power crazy in Fattah case, and Councilman David Ohs bad timing.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY Seth Williams must feel like he's caught in some crazy summertime rip current.
Things had been going so well on the political front. But then, out of nowhere, the Inquirer broke news last Thursday that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed his political campaign's financial records to see if he'd spent money on personal expenses - like $2,175 on membership dues for the Sporting Club at the Bellevue.
Williams, a Democrat, immediately began swimming parallel to the shore. He hired a Republican crisis-communications firm out of Harrisburg and blamed the whole thing on Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Kane was charged this month with leaking confidential grand-jury material to embarrass Frank Fina, a former state prosecutor who now works for Williams. Williams dissed Kane by resurrecting a slam-dunk corruption case that Kane had wrongly dismissed as unprosecutable.
Everything was calm for a few days. Seth put on a snazzy bow tie and went back to work.
But then on Wednesday, the Supreme Court released a bunch of porny, misogynistic, racist emails that Fina had sent or received on his government email address prior to leaving the Attorney General's Office.
The emails included the "New Office Motivation Policy Posters," which showed a woman having anal sex with the caption "Take advantage of every opening." Another one said, "Making your boss happy is your only job," with a pants-less woman on her knees, performing oral sex on a man.
Suddenly, Williams was on the defensive again. This is bad. He has ignored questions about what he knew about the Fina emails and when he knew it. Before he hired him or after?
(Coincidentally, Frank, we got a press release yesterday from a company in Newark, Del., called "Analtech." Apparently, they're under new management. Possible employment opportunity?)
Williams, of course, is no stranger to awkward questions about nude photos.
In 2013, the Daily News noticed that Williams' official Twitter account, @DASethWilliams, was following two accounts called @RateMyLatin and @RateMyEbony, both of which constantly tweeted graphic nude photos.
The accounts were suspended by Twitter, and Williams' handlers spent several days concocting increasingly bizarre explanations for how the D.A. ended up following the porn accounts, with the crux being that he couldn't have possibly followed them himself.
Williams was on Twitter yesterday, jawing with @ChiTownLionPSU, who was calling for Fina's firing. Williams didn't say what's next for Fina, but he dragged former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky into the mix.
In other words, he continued to swim sideways.
"Sandusky was guilty and needed to be prosecuted for sexually assaulting children ACCEPT THAT," Williams tweeted.
When we asked Williams about his political future a couple months ago - his name has been floated for U.S. Senate, House and state attorney general - Williams said he was flattered.
But, he added: "I am very interested in opening a jazz and cigar bar in Key West."
Yeah, maybe now is the time to do that. The water is much calmer down in the Keys.
Federal prosecutors on Wednesday filed a court motion that's chock-full of crazy talk and accuses indicted U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah of trying to influence the potential jury pool by - gasp! - claiming that he's a good congressman.
The nerve of that guy! Going around trying to make it seem like he's all innocent and stuff.
The 17-page motion - written on taxpayers' dime and presumably with a straight face - says Fattah's proclamations of innocence on YouTube and in the news are designed to "interfere with a fair trial and prejudice the due administration of justice."
As Ferris Bueller's sister once said: "Dry that one out, you can fertilize the lawn."
There's also something called the First Amendment that protects the right to free speech, Mr. Prosecutor Man. Stop by the National Constitution Center around the corner, they'll tell you all about it.
Fattah's camp called the motion "almost laughable" and said the Department of Justice didn't seem concerned about the jury pool when they held a press conference to announce the indictment.
Our quick addendum to their statement: The feds' jury-tainting allegations are not "almost laughable," they are laughable. No, really, we are LOL-ing right now.
Fattah, to be sure, could very well be found guilty of some or all of the crimes in the indictment, including bribery, racketeering and money laundering.
But, as far as we're concerned, the congressman should be free to climb to the top of City Hall in the middle of a thunderstorm and, clinging desperately to the laces of Billy Penn's boot, beat his chest and shout to the heavens, "I. AM. INNOCENT!" while daring God to strike him dead should he ever utter a lie.
Or something like that.
David Oh, no
Last Friday, Joseph DeFelice, executive director of the Philadelphia Republican Party - yes, it exists, why do we have to keep telling you that? - sent out an email with a list of Democrats that have been investigated, convicted or forced from office in the last two years.
The names - 16 in all, plus "the entire Philadelphia Traffic Court" - were arranged in a way that formed a big arrow pointing down. You get the idea. Democrats are corrupt, vote Republican, etc.
It was partly impressive, partly sad that there are so many names, and partly evidence that somebody at GOP headquarters might have too much time on their hands.
Then, as if on cue, Republican City Councilman David Oh, did a big ol' cannonball into the cesspool of Democratic corruption. On Monday, Oh was fined by the city Ethics Board for orchestrating a scheme to circumvent campaign-finance limits by funneling money through another candidate's committee.
Back in February, we reported that some GOP ward leaders had soured on Oh and Republican Councilman Dennis O'Brien, basically for being too much like the Democrats that run this city.
"It's not what they did, it's what they don't do. They go along with the Democrats," one Republican ward leader griped at the time.
It appears now that maybe Oh is, in fact, "going along" with the Democrats - the same type of Democrats that DeFelice had singled out last week.
- Staff writers William Bender
and David Gambacorta
contributed to this report.