Meet Joe Khan, the Man Who Wants to Unseat D.A. Seth Williams

Joe Khan announcing his intention to run against District Attorney Seth Williams in the May 2017 Democratic primary. Photo by Morgan Jenkins

Joe Khan announcing his intention to run against District Attorney Seth Williams in the May 2017 Democratic primary. Photo by Morgan Jenkins

On Thursday, former federal prosecutor Joe Khan announced that he will challenge District Attorney Seth Williams in May’s Democratic primary. Prior to his press conference, we spoke with Khan to see what we can expect from the contest. Read more »

Delaware County DNC Delegate Charged With Indecent Assault

Stage and podium at the Democratic National Convention, with Philadelphia skyline and Liberty Bell

The stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

The District Attorney’s office has decided to press charges against a Democratic National Convention delegate from Delaware County who allegedly assaulted a fellow delegate during the DNC in July.

The office initially decided not to take action last month, prompting widespread attention and outrage from the accuser, Gwen Snyder, and others who claimed that the D.A.’s office had been dismissive and that the assault had not been properly investigated. Read more »

Who’s Behind Phone Survey Critical of Seth Williams?

seth-williams-940x540

The other day I answered a phone call and found myself taking a 15-minute survey about District Attorney Seth Williams and a former and possible future challenger, Michael Untermeyer.

I was trying not to provide strong opinions (which as a reporter I of course don’t have to begin with), but I wanted to hear the questions, so I used the words “uncertain” and “somewhat” a lot. It was a pretty eye-opening survey, even as someone who’s followed the recent news about Williams fairly closely.  Read more »

Arrest Made in Tire Slashing at D.A.’s House

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

The Great Philadelphia Tire Slashing Mystery of 2015 has apparently been solved at long last.

According to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by Philadelphia magazine, a suspect named Stacey Cummings is being charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and possession of an instrument of crime for allegedly slashing tires on two city security vehicles outside the Overbrook home of District Attorney Seth Williams back in November.

Read more »

Delco D.A.’s Office Will Weigh In on Tire Slashing at Seth Williams’ House

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

At the rate things are going, a cable network might be able to get away with a 24/7 Seth Williams channel.

The sky has been falling on Philadelphia’s embattled district attorney ever since the Inquirer reported last week that Williams forgot to disclose more than $160,000 worth of personal and professional gifts he received between 2010 and 2015. The gifts ran the gamut from a new roof to fancy vacations for his family to this, uh, striking portrait.

The paper also reported that federal agents have been interviewing members of the D.A.’s staff. (The website Philadelinquency, meanwhile, noted that the Water Department was preparing to shut off the water to Williams’s house. Earlier this summer, Williams told Philadelphia magazine that he has to work a handful of side jobs to “eke out an existence,” despite the $175,572 he makes annually as district attorney.)

And on Monday, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that it’s been contacted about an odd little incident that occurred last fall outside of Williams’s home in Overbrook.

Read more »

After Porngate, Can the Philly D.A. Be Trusted to Prosecute Sex Crimes?

AP-seth-williams-frank-fina-photo-matt-burke-940x540

District Attorney Seth Williams and prosecutor Frank Fina were picutured at a press conference in 2014. | Photo by Matt Burke/AP

When District Attorney Seth Williams decided in September not to fire three prosecutors in his office ensnared in the “Porngate” scandal, he damaged his relationship with the public — quite possibly forever.

As practically every Philadelphian knows by now, Frank Fina, Patrick Blessington and Marc Costanzo exchanged emails while in the Attorney General’s office that gleefully dehumanized women and people of color. That, to put it mildly, raised serious questions about whether the three men could fairly prosecute crimes in which gender or race played a key role, particularly sex crimes. But questions about the credibility of the District Attorney’s office went far beyond those individuals. Williams repeatedly rationalized his staffers’ actions, first by refusing to discipline them and then by saying that none of the emails “were created or originated by these three employees,” as if receiving and forwarding heinous memes was no big deal as long as you didn’t whip them up on Photoshop yourself.

Fina had passed along a photo of a white man who was holding a bucket of fried chicken and being attacked by two black men. It was captioned, “Bravery at its finest.” Another email he forwarded showed a woman giving a man a blowjob, captioned, “DEVOTION: Making your boss happy is your only job.”

If Williams could rationalize that, what else could he rationalize about the good ol’ boys club inside his office?

That’s a question that doesn’t go away when the employees in question quit, as Fina did two months ago. Indeed, nearly one year after Williams announced that he wouldn’t fire the Porngate prosecutors, Philadelphians are being forced to ask these questions all over again.
Read more »

This Portrait of Seth Williams Is a Superb Symbol of Philly’s Self-Important Pols

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Roof repairs: $45,000.

Vacation travel from Vegas to Virginia and beyond: $20,800.

Tickets to Phillies and Sixers games: $2,930.

A portrait of District Attorney Seth Williams that serves as a perfect symbol of Philadelphia’s self-important political class: Priceless.

Literally.

Buried in the list of gifts that Williams finally divulged on Monday is this item, tweeted to the world by WHYY’s Bobby Allyn: Read more »

Philly’s Deviant Political Culture, Explained

Illustration by gluekit; dougherty and boxes: Charles Fox | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Associated Press; City Hall: C. Smyth for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

Illustration by gluekit; Dougherty, Charles Fox | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Associated Press; City Hall: C. Smyth for Visit Philadelphia

Because this is 2016 and I’m a journalist, I was on Twitter when I first saw the news that FBI agents were raiding Johnny Doc’s home. This was around 8:30 a.m., so I’d already had several cups of coffee, but even so, this obviously momentous development barely registered. “Huh,” I thought, and kept right on scrolling to the next hot Trump take, the next wry 140-character blast about SEPTA or improvised dumpster pools, which apparently are now a thing.

I felt a little guilty about that later. This is John Dougherty we’re talking about. Kingmaker, yes, but also judge-maker, Council-maker, deal-maker. The longtime union honcho is probably the most powerful political figure in Philadelphia, and the feds had just packed an iMac and a couple of metric tons of files from his Local 98 electricians union into a moving truck. True, he hasn’t been charged with anything, and he may never be — the feds have investigated Doc before without finding anything that would stick. But this was big news, nonetheless. And I yawned.  Read more »

« Older Posts