In a stunning development Philadelphia’s District Attorney, Seth Williams, changed his plea to Guilty in a federal corruption trial shortly before the case was to go to the jury. What was “stunning” was not that Williams pled guilty. In view of the evidence, guilt was almost a given …
What was stunning was Williams’ position – knowing what he must have known – in allowing his case to go to trial. What was disheartening was William’s complete indifference to the norms of behavior expected of a high-level law enforcement figure, especially in retrospect to his actions fighting a particular type of State-level misbehavior.
It’s as though Seth Williams believed an entirely different set of rules applied to him. Unfortunately in Pennsylvania – one of the most corrupt States in the Union (Fortune’s Top 5 pick!) – this is becoming a trend, particularly in its lead legal counsels.
It’s already irritating enough that I have totally given up on our “leaders” at the National level. Little appears to ever get done in Washington, D.C. without monumental meltdowns in bipartisan cooperation that begets obstructionism and flat-out guerrilla-style sabotage.
Even when one Party or another controls all facets of legislative governance, they would rather bicker with each other than seek quick, effective actions on the topics with which they seemed to agree. It’s almost enough to make you give up on Politics in general.
I often preach the underappreciated importance of Local Elections, where the Voter’s life will be more directly and more quickly affected by Policy and Administration decisions. But when you look at the corruption found in local Pennsylvania politicians, you have to wonder which collection of nitwits is more troublesome!
The Williams saga becomes unimaginably depressing when you consider its bizarre intersection with the equally difficult-to-comprehend case of Kathleen Kane, the disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General!
For me it’s even a bit personal … politically speaking.
When Kane was running for Pennsylvania AG, she seemed to fit nicely into my pragmatic brand of political logic that suggests having an opposition party represented in positions of Legal and Budgetary oversight. When Kane ran, State government was in the control of Republicans. So I bucked my Party and voted for what appeared to be a qualified opposition candidate.
I may never learn … though I hold no illusions that Republicans are above disillusioning me.
Kathleen Kane quickly fell into dishonor, resulting from her political motivations for blocking the prosecutions of a flock of Philadelphia Democrats caught palming the Abscam-type offerings of a corrupt lobbyist turned State Informant. Once she revealed the Court-sealed grand jury investigation of a noted Civil Rights figure in an attempt to punish critics formerly employed by the same State AG office, my decision to vote for Kane became a very, very bad one.
Enter Seth Williams, who heroically stood up for the targets of Kane’s retribution (former prosecutor and investigator) that now worked for him. In a pointed rebuke to Kane’s political and legal malfeasance, Williams picked up a challenge Kane carelessly tossed at his feet, when in a snit over Williams’ defense of ex-AG staffers, she dared Williams to take up the Philadelphia prosecutions.
Williams did more than just grab the fallen flag. He successfully prosecuted or obtained pleas of guilt from all of the offenders!
I considered such acts “heroic” for simply having the intestinal fortitude to stand up to a popular – at the time – fellow Democrat. And I thought, here’s a Democrat with a promising future.
Wrong again …
It appears now that Mr. Williams was much more sinister – deep down – than even Miss Kane, relying on the patronage of rich businessmen to finance a lifestyle he could not afford. Williams was even accused of raiding his own mother’s fixed-income financial accounts for such things as gym memberships, vacation trips, and expensive club accommodations.
After a lengthy and contentious Dance of Innocence, Mr. Williams finally fessed up to the overwhelming evidence against him and fell on his own sword. That it might have been the same sword with which he helped slay the career of Kathleen Kane is not particularly comforting or encouraging.
What it does accomplish however, is piercing the notion that ANY politician can be totally trusted no matter how sparkling the exterior!