- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia’s police union has purchased a “Help Wanted” billboard that says the city is ready for a new district attorney.

The billboard erected Wednesday at a city avenue near Interstate 95 is the latest salvo in a war of words between the Fraternal Order of Police and District Attorney Seth Williams.

Williams declined comment on the billboard just days after agreeing to pay $62,000 to settle Philadelphia Board of Ethics claims that he failed to disclose gifts and sources of income and accepted gifts barred by the city ethics code.

“If it would have been any other city employee, they would have been fired,” union president John McNesby said of the ethics charges.

The $62,000 ethics fine was the largest imposed by the board in its 10 years of operation and stemmed from Williams failure to disclose nearly $160,000 worth of gifts - including home repairs, airfare and lodgings for vacations - before he amended financial disclosure forms for the years 2010-2015 in August.

In settling the ethics case with the fine, the board also found nearly $16,000 worth of additionally unreported gifts, the agency announced.

Williams, a Democrat, apologized and vowed to “work every day” to earn back the “trust and respect” of family, friends, supporters and government officials.

The FBI and IRS are investigating Williams‘ personal and political finances with the help of a grand jury. Williams has not been charged with a crime and is running for a third four-year term as the city’s top prosecutor.

Two former assistant prosecutors, Joe Khan and Michael Untermeyer, have announced they’re running in the Democratic primary against Williams along with former city managing director Rich Negrin and former municipal court judge Teresa Carr Deni. Beth Grossman, another former assistant prosecutor, is running against Williams as a Republican.

The union plans to endorse one of Williams‘ opponents and will convert the billboard to reflect that, McNesby said.

The billboard now also reads, “New Philadelphia District Attorney. Please contact FOP Lodge 5” and the union handed out matching yard signs to its members, too.

Earlier this month, McNesby called Williams a “morally and ethically challenged sideline playboy” in a letter criticizing the prosecutor’s decision not to charge a 16-year-old girl who allegedly slapped an officer who was breaking up a street brawl.

The officer was removed from street duty pending an internal investigation into a social media video showing her throwing down the teen and punching her while breaking up the Jan. 2 melee, which involved more than 30 people.

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