5 Porngate Questions Seth Williams Needs to Answer Immediately
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, you’ve got some explaining to do.
While previously working for the Attorney General’s office, your prosecutor Frank Fina was part of an email chain that exchanged racist, misogynistic, pornographic and just plain stupid messages. Last week, the state Supreme Court unsealed that bounty of emails, and we gotta say, they make Fina look like he’d be a better fit in a frat house than a courtroom.
One email contained an image of a woman giving oral sex to a man, with the caption, “Making your boss happy is your only job.” Another had a photo of a white man carrying fried chicken and getting into a confrontation with two black men, alongside the caption, “Bravery at its finest.” There was also a photo of a woman with a T-shirt that read “WIFE: Washing, Ironing, F**ing, Etc.”
In a statement following the document dump, you said “the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has clear human relations policies, so the District Attorney believes that a thorough review is necessary of the email chains and any actions current employees took in their distribution,” and that the office will complete that review ASAP. OK, fine. We understand that these things take time. But there are five questions that you can answer — and need to answer — right away:
• Before last week, what did you know about Fina’s involvement in “Porngate”? Had you seen any of the emails? Did you know anything about their contents? Or did you take the “see no evil, hear no evil” route?
• When did you know what you knew? Porngate has been in the news for months, after all. And good-government activist Gene Stilp said he urged you in October 2014 to “investigate Frank Fina to determine Fina’s involvement in the porn email scandal.”
• What, exactly, does your “thorough review” of the emails entail? Because it took PhillyMag less than a day to review the 400 pages (yes, 400 pages) of emails unsealed by the state Supreme Court.
• When do you expect to complete the investigation? The public needs to be assured that the investigation will not unnecessarily drag on until this scandal is forgotten.
• What are you doing to ensure that the bro-y culture of the former AG’s office hasn’t infiltrated yours? Can you prove that your office is respectful of women and people of color? And that your employees are using their city email addresses for official business only?
We posed these questions to Williams’ office. Cameron Kline, Williams’ spokesman (who may have an ethical problem of his own), said, “The review continues. I wish I could tell you when it will be done, but we want to make sure it’s done well and thoroughly.”
In the meantime, local groups are demanding that Williams take action. Stilp, the political activist, said Monday that Williams “should relieve Fina of all duties immediately.” And the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women issued a statement calling on Williams to do something immediately: “This gross misconduct points to the culture of misogyny and racism that permeates the highest levels of government,” said NOW. “There must be consequences for such behavior in order to change this culture and to repair and restore public confidence in our law enforcement entities.”
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