As scandals mount, Seth Williams tweets
While his office smolders, Seth Williams tweets. Not about the scandals our judgment-challenged district attorney has wrought on the institution he leads. Nothing about that. But fun things like parks and parties.
While his office smolders, Seth Williams tweets.
Not about the scandals our judgment-challenged district attorney has wrought on the institution he leads. Nothing about that. But fun things like parks and parties.
"I love Philly," he blithely tweeted Saturday, right around the time police were finalizing charging papers for his one-time girlfriend, who had confessed to slashing the tires of Williams' city-owned vehicle. "I have been to block parties all across town today. In the shadows of Memorial Park is a cricket game."
He even posted a pleasant photo of the cricketers at play.
Cool. But how about those tires? Or the $160,050 in previously undisclosed gifts you recently reported? That $45,000 roof you got from that donor from Jersey? The tropical trips and gift cards from defense attorneys?
"Join us for food, music, comedy, fun and fellowship," he tweeted about another block party.
Sounds fun. I'll try to make it.
But how about this ongoing FBI probe into your campaign finances?
In times of triumph, in times of minor accomplishment even, our district attorney has never shied from sliding Risky Business-style in front of cameras to talk. And talk and talk.
But now, when it's time for him to stand up and be accountable for one bad decision after another, Williams has decided to stay quiet. He's cool. He'll catch us later.
Both his office spokesman and his campaign spokesman said the same thing Tuesday: Seth's not talking.
There's probably not much he can say about the FBI investigation. I get that.
And in fairness, perhaps Williams just doesn't know where to start. It's getting tough to keep up with all the messes our district attorney needs to explain.
When he disclosed the gifts earlier this month, Williams said in a brief statement that he believed in "the need for greater transparency." Then he beat it of town for a vacation and went mum.
In an email to his staff, he apologized for the "adverse publicity" - not the gifts, but the media's negative reaction to them. Which, of course, is what happens when the city's top law enforcement official fails to report five years' worth of pricey presents: bad press.
He sang a different tune with his donors. In an email to them, Williams was all apologies, taking "full responsibility" for the lapses. Then his campaign invited everybody to a fundraiser - a Penn State vs. Temple football party scheduled for next month at Chickie's and Pete's. Food and light refreshments will be provided, the invite assured. Suggested contribution levels: $500, $250, $75. Come early for the dip.
Now we have this embarrassment with the tires.
When Stacey Cummings - whom Williams described as his girlfriend on financial disclosures in 2012 and 2014 - confessed to police last week that she slashed tires on two city-owned vehicles outside Williams' house in November, her statement was frustratingly vague. She did it, she said, because she had "received some information that was very upsetting."
Maybe he forgot to invite her to a block party.
Sometimes you just have to stand up, and say, "My girlfriend stabbed my tires."
But Williams didn't. It took 12 days for his taxpayer-paid security officer to file a police report. And it took nine months for Cummings to finally give a statement - nine months for a simple tire slashing to be solved. There's no way that looks good. But timing is everything, especially if you're being investigated by the feds.
His spokesmen say Williams can't talk about the tires because it has been referred to Delaware County authorities to avoid any conflict of interest. That train left the station long ago. About nine months ago.
Williams needs to answer fundamental questions. A crime was committed. City property was vandalized. By the district attorney's girlfriend. How can he have nothing to say?
Talk to people inside the District Attorney's Office - the ones battling it out in courtrooms every day while the long shadow of their boss' shenanigans hangs over their heads - and they'll tell you the same thing. That it feels like it long ago became less and less about the good of the office, and more and more about the good of Seth.
That instead of promoting experienced prosecutors who can build up the office and teach younger ones the ropes, Williams brought in outsiders to build a wall around him, to stop him from doing things that compromise him and the office. Things like accepting gifts and not reporting them. And not calling the police when someone slashes his tires.
They work for a boss who burdens them with his behavior. Who needs to stand up now and start answering questions.