By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Chasing the missing e-mails

Two quick comments on the growing controversy over the missing City Hall e-mails:

  • The Boston Globe has done an impressive job, both in uncovering the fact that Michael Kineavy, a top aide to Boston Mayor Tom Menino, had deleted the e-mails, and in following up. In particularly like the story in today’s paper about the forensics of e-mail recovery.
  • Attorney General Martha Coakley’s quote in the Boston Herald today strikes me as the first misstep of her Senate campaign. “Particularly understanding this is the middle of a [mayoral] campaign, we get lots of complaints from folks who are adversaries who have a particular agenda,” Coakley says.

Whoa. Though it’s certainly true that the e-mails — public records — may prove to be no big deal, it’s also true that they may be related to the criminal probe of former state senator Dianne Wilkerson. Coakley’s going to have to do better than that.

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  1. This is what we have mainstream media for.

    For sure, if a blogger or single voter had pushed the city for the emails, s/he would have been sent on his/her way or would have run out of the time/money needed to pursue the story.

  2. The destruction of the emails is apparently a crime in and of itself. So it is a big deal, even if they show nothing at all. Just another in ever increasing cases of the coverup being worse than the initial crime. Committing a felonies to hide misdemeanor type stuff.

  3. Newshound

    I don’t see this as her first misstep. Manipulating campaign financial funds also speaks to her lack of integrity.

    Fortunately this little weasel may not be durable enough to withstand her very own destruction to her credibility, thus making it easier to fill the senate seat with a person of higher standards and principles.

    Oh, and as far as protecting the mayor and neglecting her elected duty – – – that seems simple enough without comment.

  4. Michael Pahre

    A total misstep. She was right to stay out of the issue at the moment, but wrong to give her reason that the complainants were motivated purely for political reasons.

    She had an easy way out. This is the written statement she should have produced:

    “I have received the letter from Councilors Yoon and Flaherty. At this time, the issue is one of a municipal government releasing public records under the guidelines of state law. The state Supervisor of Public Records and his boss the Secretary of the Commonwealth have jurisdiction over this matter. If, in the future, the secretary forwards on a criminal complaint to me then I will initiate an investigation.”

  5. Veritas

    What total garbage from these commenters- Martha Coakley did nothing illegal with money- Was she smart to know that there would be a Senate seat available and after 23 years of public service think she could do more to further the issues she’s been fighting for- You betcha- Were she a guy would this be seen as a politically greedy move?
    How silly to think that the Attorney General should drop everything-the big cases she’s working on- and charge into a politically motivated food fight- There is a process which no doubt will take it’s course- Coakley has a 23 year record of incorruptibility
    -She has worked for the public good taking on the Catholic Church, Boston Organized Crime (the justice department asked her to head the task force) This is not someone who shies away from the hard stuff-
    Great campaign by many bloggers to diminish all the hard work put in by one of the most exemplary public servant this state has had. Martha, having graduated cum laude from Williams, worked at several of the most prestigious law firms in the state- She could have had a really cushy life but she chose public service. Stop with spreading the lies and half truths- She’s married to a Cambridge police officer, lives in a blue collar town-Martha is a good person and truly a model for our state and our daughters- How lucky we are that the most qualified candidate for the job is a woman-it’s about time Massachusetts-
    Go Martha!

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Veritas: No one has even hinted that Coakley did anything illegal. Glen Johnson of the AP wrote a very good story on her maneuvering with campaign finances last week (sorry, can’t find a link), but he also did not suggest she do anything illegal.

    I think Michael nailed it. Regarding the e-mails, she did the right thing, at least for now, but she shouldn’t have spoken dismissively about them.

  7. O-FISH-L

    Coakley better hope that nothing significant comes out of the retrieved emails or out of this case entirely. If it does, she better pray it does so after the special election.

    If anyone at City Hall goes down on this, be it a low level person or the Mayor himself, Scott Brown’s ad writes itself. That is, if Coakley even survives the primary now.

    Coakley: “Looked the other way on Boston City Hall corruption.” “Refused to investigate political friends.” “Ignored clear violations of the law that she had sworn to uphold.”


  8. Mr Punch

    Coakley’s statement is reminiscent of her initial response (as DA) to clergy abuse charges. I’d rather have law enforcement officials who play things down than those who blow them up, but this is beginning to look like as established tendency in matters she wished would go away.

    That said, it’s not specifically relevant to service in the US Senate, where going along is something of a virtue.

  9. Newshound

    Coakley apparently does not have her heart into her well paying job as attorney general.

    She should resign so that someone can do the job and get the pay.

    Being lazy and uninterested in a high level government position is in itself not against the law, but it doesn’t seem to meet a moral standard.

    Her passion seems to be more at craftily scheming on how to manipulate her life around the laws.

    And to think of a mess like that running for senator?

  10. mike_b1

    Someone other than Scott Brown should write his ad. I heard him this week on Howie Carr’s show. Man couldn’t put together a complete sentence if someone spotted him the subject, verb and object. Coakley’s game plan should be to let Brown do all the talking. Once people stop laughing at him, they’ll run to the polls to vote for her.

  11. Newshound

    Scott Brown has earned his living the honest way, even posing nude in a magazine centerfold to support his college costs.

    The other candidate is not earning her pay. The major point is not to reveal an array of inconsequential emails, but that the public records law is so horribly abused and in this case the suspected motive is to hide the extraordinary and powerful political machine that very well could have been engaged in acts not in the city’s best interest.

    If the public can not be informed of legally pertinent information in an election, democracy fails.

    Coakley’s lack of interest is politically motivated as a miscarriage of ensuring democracy when it counts the most – during an election campaign.

  12. mike_b1

    “Scott Brown has earned his living the honest way, even posing nude in a magazine centerfold to support his college costs.

    Well, if that’s his major qualification — and I’m not convinced it’s not — I can think of a lot of hot women who should apply right now.

  13. Rick in Duxbury

    “Martha, having graduated cum laude from Williams, worked at several of the most prestigious law firms in the state- She could have had a really cushy life but she chose public service.” Yes, everyone knows that once you get a BA from an excellent college and a JD to boot, it’s all down hill from there. Those lawyers sure have it easy! (Violet Amirault could not be reached for comment.)

  14. Dot

    I don’t understand why people keep thinking that this is an issue for Martha Coakley to handle right now. Bill Galvin’s office investigates, then refers findings to the state’s legal arm for prosecution. What’s so hard to understand about that?

  15. Newshound

    We’d like to think the attorney general would put her devotion to law and order in front of politics, but that isn’t the way it looks, disappointingly.

    Certainly we haven’t seen any concrete evidence from the speculation that the political machine that has been keeping Mumbles in office so many years has done anything illegal, other than delete emails, more or less.

    But since there is that accusation and speculation and we’re in the midst of a contested election, a democracy is entitled to this as quickly as possible so that the electorate can be properly informed, a significant component we depend on for the perpetuity of democracy.

    The state pays big dollars to AG Coakley to watch out for the public’s interest. Instead, she uses the position merely for a downtown office to run her campaign for the job she now says she wants instead.

    In the meantime, Senator Brown is not obstructing democracy and as such, for all we care, he could be at the photo studio right now for another shooting – or sitting or whatever it is called. Thankfully, this is not a requirement for elected federal office in Massachusetts . . . and like others this week – we’re not naming names right now.

  16. mike_b1

    “The state pays big dollars to AG Coakley to watch out for the public’s interest. Instead, she uses the position merely for a downtown office to run her campaign for the job she now says she wants instead.

    So I guess when Brown uses his elected office to run his campaign for the job he now says he wants instead, that’s a good taxpayer investment?

  17. Newshound

    Mike – If Senator Brown does the same as the non-working, uninterested attorney general, it is just as bad.

    Merely claiming to be a member of any political party does not excuse the choice of inappropriate ethics.

  18. mike_b1

    I would argue that Senator Brown has almost zero accountability. Who is to say how much time he must allow to legislate vs. how much time he spends in private practice? For all we know, he doesn’t spend any time on the former except for the occasional session and committee meeting.

    Coakley has no such out: The AG is a full-time job and then some. Calling her “non-working, uninterested,” however, certainly doesn’t jibe with the evidence.

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