Ethics Board fines Seth Williams campaign committee

     Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams' dormant campaign committee has been fined $2,000 for failing to report some transactions. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams' dormant campaign committee has been fined $2,000 for failing to report some transactions. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    The Philadelphia Ethics Board has fined District Attorney Seth Williams’ dormant campaign committee $2,000 for failing to report some of its income and spending, including $3,243 in payments to the Union League.

    Compared with the federal corruption charges Williams faces, this is a pretty minor misfortune.

    Although Williams is no longer a candidate for re-election, Ethics Board Executive Director Shane Creamer said the DA set up a new campaign committee last year when he was running. When it filed its year-end report, a few things were missing.

    “They forgot to include a transfer of $5,000 from the old committee to the new committee, and also failed to disclose 16 other expenditures,” Creamer said.

    Among those expenditures were two payments totaling $3,243 to the Union League.

    Creamer said the Ethics Board had no authority to question whether that was a permissible use of campaign funds under the state election code.

    The code requires that campaign funds be spent to influence elections, but that has been interpreted quite broadly over the years to include expenses a candidate incurs building political and fundraising relationships.

    The Ethics Board said the Williams campaign cooperated in its investigation and agreed to a $2,000 civil penalty.

    Williams has a May 31 trial date on his corruption charges. Prosecutors have asked the presiding judge to delay the proceedings.

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