For almost six years, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams concealed a mounting heap of booty that included free home improvements, lavish vacations, cash, and passes to Eagles, Phillies, and 76ers games. There is no doubt that he knew better.
When former Attorney General Kathleen Kane killed an investigation of several Philadelphia Democrats who accepted unreported gifts from an undercover informant, Williams successfully prosecuted them for acts similar to what he now blithely dismisses as accepting "gifts" from his "friends."
Williams raked in far more than the nearly $9,000 in gifts that the politicians he prosecuted accepted. Home repairs provided by a New Jersey builder; trips to Key West, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Punta Cana; an iPad; a couch; and other gifts that Willams received totaled more than $160,000.
The city's ethics law requires public officials to report all gifts worth more than $200 or face civil penalties. Williams' failure to report all he received dates back to 2010. The city's ethics board will lose credibility if he escapes sanction.
While no criminal charges have been lodged against Williams, his actions violate the public's trust. The virtuous reformer Philadelphians thought they elected in 2009 and 2013 now must be seen as just another hypocrite with his hand out.
With Kane's conviction Monday for leaking grand jury information, Williams' ethical lapse is another blow to the public's faith in government. Elected officials, especially those in law enforcement, must adhere to a higher standard.