The executive director of the campaign committee for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams sent an email to the majority of his deputies and chiefs last week asking them to attend a fundraiser and contribute to his campaign.
In the email, sent May 29 by Lisette Gonzalez, the executive director for Friends of Seth Williams, she told the recipients that, despite any concerns they might have, they could attend the event, and "according to the ethics board, you can also make donations."
She later goes on to say: "I know for a fact, Seth would love if you could attend and support his event next week."
In addition, the email encouraged the recipients to share a flyer with "any other staff and team members you think may want to also attend and support the event."
The email was sent to 34 of his deputies and chiefs at their government email addresses inviting them to the "Seth in the City" fundraiser Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office said that Williams did not give his blessing to send out the email and that he did not know that the email was sent out to his top aides' public-employee email addresses until after the fact.
Several lawyers who were aware of the email but didn't want to talk on the record described the email as "unseemly" and "inappropriate." Several other election lawyers said the email was problematic under several different laws.
The email recipients included most of his deputies, including first assistant Edward McCann.
According to an organizational chart of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, four chiefs were left off the distribution list for the email.
In the email, Gonzalez quickly acknowledged that the recipients might have ethical concerns regarding the fundraiser. After giving her name and inviting them to the event, Gonzalez wrote: "I know what you may all be thinking? 'I can't support nor attend a political event.' But the reality is, YES YOU CAN! This event is after work hours and according to the ethics board, you can also make donations for Seth if you shall decide to attend.