The transfers of three Philadelphia prosecutors whose emails ensnared them in the so-called Porngate scandal is not enough, several current and former elected officials said Monday.
"He should just fire them," City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez said of their boss, District Attorney Seth Williams.
Williams' chief of staff did not rule out further steps against the three - that is, if all the relevant emails come to light.
Williams ordered Frank Fina, E. Marc Costanzo, and Patrick Blessington to posts where they will not be prosecuting new criminal cases. The move, effective Monday, came after weeks of pressure for the ouster of the three over offensive and pornographic emails they sent or received in their previous jobs as state prosecutors.
Some of Williams' fiercest critics vowed to keep up the pressure until the three depart.
"I think that they have really hurt their careers and hurt themselves in that they offended a lot of women in this country," Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell said. "I don't know how they think they are going to survive this, because the public opinion is overwhelmingly against them. We'll see how long we have to fight them."
Sánchez, Blackwell, and their fellow city councilwomen, led by Cindy Bass, introduced a resolution that passed last week urging Williams to fire the prosecutors.
State Rep. Brian Sims (D., Phila.), who is running for Congress, said the transfers were not enough.
"For me, shuffling them away is like shuffling away the priests in the Catholic Church," Sims said. "They will still be interacting every day, on behalf of our government, with the same people with whom they've shown they lack the character to interact appropriately."
As he did last week, Mayor-elect Jim Kenney stopped short of urging firings, but said he would not permit such conduct in his own staff.
"Misogyny and racism have no place in society, and I will not tolerate this type of behavior among my employees in City Hall," Kenney said in a statement. "However, as I've stated previously, D.A. Williams is an independently elected official. ... It is up to him to determine each person's level of involvement in these emails and discipline accordingly."
Ed Rendell, the former mayor and governor, who was district attorney from 1978 to 1986, used the word if: "If they sent and received the worst of these emails that were racist and crude, misogynist and crude, then on balance, I think they should go."
The email scandal has cost a half-dozen people their jobs, including a state Supreme Court justice who retired early. On Sept. 4, after the three prosecutors' involvement first surfaced, Williams condemned them for it, noted that it occurred before they joined his staff, and said they would receive "sensitivity training."
But it wasn't until late last month, after criticism from Council members and women's advocates, that Williams announced that the three had received a one-day training seminar.
"Frank, Mark, and Patrick are great prosecutors who clearly made a big mistake. They have learned from their mistakes," Williams said in a statement then.
Then came the transfers. Effective Monday, Fina, a top corruption prosecutor, was moved to the civil-litigation division; Costanzo from special investigations to appeals; Blessington from insurance fraud to appellate work.
Kathleen Martin, Williams' chief of staff, said he was not available Monday for an interview, but said the transfers were not demotions and that the prosecutors' salaries would not change.
"City Council people asked that they do not have prosecutorial powers anymore," and the three no longer have those powers, Martin said.
She said the decision to transfer them was based on information Williams received in September and not due to public pressure. She said Williams could take further action if all the emails are released - a step he wants embattled state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane to take.
Williams hopes Council and the women's advocacy group PhillyNOW will join him in calling on Kane to release "emails of everyone and not just those she has a grudge against," Martin said. "We want a fair and full determination of who sent and received what emails beyond what she has selectively released."
The "grudge" referred to part of the drama behind Kane's release of the emails. She is fighting criminal charges for what Montgomery County prosecutors say was her illegal leak of secret grand-jury material in an effort to smear Fina. They say she blamed Fina for helping The Inquirer reveal that Kane, in 2013, had shut down the secret "sting" corruption probe that Fina had led - and that Williams revived, winning guilty pleas from three state legislators and a former Traffic Court judge. Two other legislators are fighting corruption charges.
On Monday, Kane spokesman Chuck Ardo said the emails were part of various investigations, and that Kane "hopes they can all be released" when the probes are done.
Mayor Nutter, too, said he wants to learn more about what he called "this bizarre mess." Asked Monday for comment, he said through spokesman Mark McDonald: "I look forward to learning the truth just like the rest of the public, and whatever it is, I expect the appropriate actions would then be taken."
Blackwell, for one, says the emails that have already surfaced should trigger firings, not transfers.
In her Council office Monday, she shook her head as she said, "Doesn't look good. Doesn't look like it's going to be enough."