In September, Governing magazine produced the headline of the year when it announced, “To Wipe Out Corruption, Look to Philadelphia.”
Good one, guys.
The article even included a picture of former DA Seth Williams. He was one of many area politicos to face scandals over corruption, sexual harassment and other allegations. Yep, 2017 was a year like every other.
Here’s your annual reminder Philly politics have a long way to go before they’re clean.
Bob Brady’s friends get in big trouble
The axe hasn’t fallen on Brady yet, but the longtime Democratic Congressman was linked to an investigation by the FBI. In November, the Feds sought emails linked to Brady. This revelation came after a former political opponent who claimed Brady paid him off to drop out of the election pleaded guilty to a campaign violation. His former associate Donald Jones then pleaded guilty to lying to the Feds during an investigation into the same payment. Right now, Ken Smukler, another longtime Brady consultant, faces charges. Brady remains uncharged for now.
Seth Williams sentenced to prison
Former DA Seth Williams maintained his innocence on dozens of criminal charges through a few days of his corruption trial. Then he changed his mind. Williams pleaded guilty in late June to just one bribery count. The plea wasn’t enough for Judge Paul Diamond to show mercy. He sent Williams to jail immediately, saying he couldn’t trust him. In late October, he was sentenced to five years in prison.
Lieut. Gov. Mike Stack’s wild spending
Northeast Philly native Mike Stack, along with his wife, Tonya, was accused of abusing the privileges of the lieutenant governor’s office. Penn Live found his office filed $250K in expenses from early 2015 to early 2017. These expenses included $5,500 on newspaper subscriptions and hotel stays in Philadelphia, even though he has a residence here. He and his wife were also accused of mistreating state police.
The Democrats must be trying to distance themselves from Stack now, right? Nope, this is Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Wolf declined to make public an Inspector General’s report into Stack’s behavior. Senate Democrats said they would endorse him in the spring primary. They did this despite other Dems having entered the Lieutenant Governor race to unseat Stack.
Three harassment claims against Jewell Williams
Two women accused Philadelphia Sheriff and former Pa. Rep. Jewell Williams of sexual harassment in November. It was also revealed state Democrats paid $30,000 to settle an earlier harassment claim against him. Mayor Jim Kenney asked him to step down, but Williams, a Democrat, hasn’t heeded the call. He next faces reelection in 2019.
Daylin Leach’s sexually-charged work environment
Like Jewell Williams, Democratic Pa. Sen. Daylin Leach, whose district includes the Philadelphia suburbs, also faces sexual harassment allegations. The Inquirer quoted named and anonymous accusers describing how Leach created an environment of uncomfortable touching and sexual conversation for years in his office. Gov. Tom Wolf told Leach he needed to resign. Leach, who has denied any improper behavior, said he wasn’t giving up his Congressional campaign — or his seat in the state senate — but taking a step back. He did this after attacking his accusers.