Council members offended by Porngate issue, but don’t prioritize call for action

 On Wednesday, Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murray Bailey called on City Council 'to defund the salary' of three people involved in the DA's office email scandal. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

On Wednesday, Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murray Bailey called on City Council 'to defund the salary' of three people involved in the DA's office email scandal. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A day after Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murray Bailey called on City Council to hold hearings to “find out what’s really going on” in a district attorney’s office beset by the Porngate controversy, two members told NinetyNine on Thursday that it’s not currently their top priority.

After being apprised of Murray’s statements, about which City Council President Darrell Clarke’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment on Wednesday, Councilwoman at-large Blondell Reynolds Brown (D) expressed little inclination to push for hearings.

“With the myriad — some might use the word diverse, others might say complexity of — issues facing the city that directly impact citizens who are less fortunate, who are hungry, who are unemployed, who need housing, that would not be the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 item on my priority list at all,” she said.

She then stuck around to “hear the male response” when Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones (D) was asked the same question.

“Absolutely,” said Jones when asked whether council should get involved.

“I have a daughter. I have a wife. I have a sister. I don’t want them turning on a computer and having to be exposed to that kind of issue,” he said. “I take offense to it, and I particularly take offense to it if someone who I care deeply about has to be subjected to it. It is a form of sexual harrassment.”

Jones said he would support holding hearings, noting the city needs to look at “all of our servers, all of our systems to make sure that this stuff is filtered.”

Reynolds Brown said that it’s a “given” that people would be offended by the Porngate behavior. Stepping into the role of reporter, she then asked Jones where the issue fell on his list of priorities moving forward in City Council.

“Oh, I want to educate kids way before I’m checking for porn,” he said, noting there’s “a long list of things” that warrant City Council’s attention before the DA’s office. “But, if you’re saying to me, ‘Does that issue rank?’ well, yes it does.”

Asked for a response, Bailey said she would contact NinetyNine later with a statement. This story will be updated when she does so.

Plan Philly’s Jared Brey provided additional reporting for this article.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.