Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams apologized to his staff Friday for any distractions created by the "adverse publicity" that has surrounded his disclosure of thousands of dollars in previously unreported gifts.
"I understand and recognize that each of you works very hard to represent the commonwealth with integrity and honor," he wrote in an email obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News. "The adverse publicity about me during this past week has likely made it more difficult for you to do that. I deeply regret and apologize to you for that."
Attorneys in Williams' office said morale is low in the wake of the disclosures.
Prosecutors are required to fill out financial disclosure forms each year and list gifts they have received. The knowledge that their boss failed to do so - to the tune of $160,050 - has left many in Williams' office disappointed and "mortified," said one staffer, who declined to be identified.
Williams did not apologize to his staffers for taking the gifts. Rather, he said he was sorry for the distraction that "expansive news coverage" of his finances had created.
Among that coverage was a report Friday that District Attorney's Office staffers had been interviewed by the FBI, which is said to be investigating whether Williams used campaign funds for personal use.
"I realize that my actions, including those taken in my personal life, can reflect on all of you, and, in this case, potentially distract from the important work we do each day, however unfairly," he wrote.
When asked if a reporter could speak to staffers, Williams' spokesman, Cameron Kline, said the office would not have any further comment on his email.
Mustafa Rashed, a campaign spokesman for Williams, said the district attorney was "doing about as well as can be expected." Williams currently is on vacation.
"He's more concerned about the late disclosure filings being the news and a distraction to the dedicated 600 men and women in the D.A.'s Office, which is why he sent the email," Rashed said.
Williams' financial disclosure statements, belatedly amended and released this week, detailed six years' worth of gifts including vacations at a luxury estate in Appomattox, Va.; sideline passes to Eagles games; and $45,000 in home repairs that included a new roof.
Williams said in a statement Monday that he had released the lists of gifts in the spirit of "greater transparency." His lawyer, Samuel Stretton, has called the situation "a terrible mistake."
Friday's email was Williams' first acknowledgment of the public scrutiny the gifts have drawn.
He reiterated to staffers that he loves the office and intends "to carry on the good work you have done for the people of this city."