Philadelphia D.A. Bows Out of Re-Election Bid

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, saying he brought “shame” and “embarassment” to the office when he became involved in an ethics scandal, has announced that he will not seek re-election to the position.

“I have made regrettable mistakes in my personal life and personal financial life that cast an unnecessary shadow,” Williams said Friday.

Williams is the first African-American District Attorney in Pennsylvania history and is credited with improving the office with the overhauling of  the office’s Charging Unit, creating alternative sentencing options for non-violent offenders and establishing better cohesion between law enforcement and the community.

During his announcement, Williams said that he did not want to stand in the way of the District Attorney’s office’s accomplishments and cited several programs and improvements it has instituted over the course of his tenure.

He admitted failure to report five sources of income and 89 gifts on city financial statement, the newspaper reported. But he also maintained at a press conference earlier this week that he would not resign from his position.

Williams was charged with accepting gifts and failing to report income that resulted in an investigation by the FBI and IRS. He was also fined $62,000 by the Philadelphia Board of Ethics and was ordered to pay the city more than $2800, the value of five gifts he received that were prohibited by Philadelphia’s ethics code, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“These mistakes were my own and I accept full responsibility for my failure to do everything that was required of me as a public official,” Williams said at the time.

At least five Democrats have entered the race for the May 16 primary to replace Williams. One Republican has also filed to run against the winner for the seat later this year.

Image: Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia. AP / Matt Rourke