Watch Out, Seth Williams
The women of the Philadelphia City Council are mad as hell, and they want District Attorney Seth Williams to know they’re not going to take it anymore.
Tomorrow morning, they are planning to join with the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women to denounce “the demeaning, misogynistic and racist emails” exchanged by former state prosecutors who currently work for Williams, according to Philly NOW president Nina Ahmad.
Ahmad said all of the women members of City Council have signed onto a statement condemning the dissemination of the “Porngate” emails. Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez confirmed this. Sánchez also said prosecutors in the email chain should be fired.
“These people make judgement calls on people’s lives every single day,” said Sánchez. “There’s so much questioning of our judicial system, from the police to the attorney general, and we don’t need to further complicate that with the perception that people making decisions about which cases go to trial think it’s okay to do what they did.”
This is a huge, huge deal. The fact that all of the women on City Council are holding Williams’ feet to the fire … well, that’s a lot of political pressure. And it’s just as interesting that Democrats on Council are calling out another member of their party.
Sánchez added, “It’s the first time females in City Council have ever taken a stand like this on an issue that’s so important to women right now.”
Before they worked in Williams’ office, Frank Fina, Patrick Blessington and Marc Costanzo were prosectors for former Attorney General Tom Corbett. There, they were part of an email chain that swapped pornographic and offensive messages. That’s putting it mildly, really. One email sent by Fina “depicts a topless woman on her back, giving oral sex to a man in a dress shirt,” wrote Philly Mag’s Joel Mathis. “It is captioned in the style of a motivational poster: ‘WILLINGNESS: Bend over backwards to do an exceptional job.'” Another one of Fina’s faux motivational posters “included an image of a white man, carrying a bucket of fried chicken, being accosted by two deranged-looking black men. The caption? ‘Bravery at its finest.'”
Days after Philly NOW called for the district attorney to take action on Porngate “with utmost urgency,” Williams announced that he was not firing Fina, Blessington or Costanzo. Instead, he said they would receive “sensitivity training.” Williams defended his decision, saying that his employees were contrite and that he conducted a rigorous review of the email chain.
Ahmad also said Philly NOW will launch a Change.org petition tomorrow calling for the prosecutors to be terminated.
What’s Williams’ response to all this? His spokesman did not provide comment.