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Email scandal remains stagnant as Kineavy returns to office

In the aftermath of the ’emailgate’ scandal that rocked City Hall in September, the state investigation of mayoral aide Michael Kineavy regarding his improper deletion of thousands of City Hall emails continues even as Attorney General Martha Coakley, who has headed the case, campaigns for senator and Kineavy returns from his unpaid leave.

Despite suspicions from former mayoral candidates Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon, both city councilors-at-large, officials said no evidence of a cover-up has been found in the data that was recovered from several state computers, and no new developments have been announced in the investigation.

‘It’s still active and ongoing,’ Attorney General spokesman Harry Pierre said of the case.

Flaherty campaign spokeswoman Natasha Perez told The Daily Free Press in October that a cover-up is ‘more than likely.’ She said she expects investigators will discover ‘tortious interference,’ which in this case would entail intentional destruction of documents in play in active cases.

Pierre said he could not comment on whether or not there was a connection between Kineavy’s email case and the Oct. 2008 bribery scandal currently under FBI investigation, where former Massachusetts’ state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, allegedly spoke to Kineavy about obtaining a liquor license for a bar owner. The bar owner, who was actually an undercover agent, had bribed Wilkerson for help.

Kineavy, the mayor’s chief of policy and planning, returned to work with little ceremony on Nov. 10, The Boston Globe reported, just a week after Mayor Thomas Menino was reelected to an unprecedented fifth term.

Kineavy requested his unpaid leave in October. Menino released a statement at the time approving the leave and praising Kineavy’s’ commitment to service.

‘It is unfortunate that these things happen during political times but we hope this time will allow Michael to clear his name,’ the statement said. ‘The city will continue to seek out information of any deleted items from within Michael’s computers and will continue to work in cooperation with the Secretary of State’s Office in this effort.’

The scandal originally began when The Globe requested to see a particular sample of Kineavy’s emails, along with those of seven other city employees. It eventually came to light that Kineavy had been ‘double-deleting’ emails ‘- deleting them from his inbox and then from City Hall’s servers before they could be backed up.

The eventual recovery of thousands of emails that had been deleted revealed private discussions, some of them marked confidential, involving a variety of City Hall officials and issues.

Yoon said the Menino administration’s efforts are not sufficient to preventing future violations of public records law.

‘I’m not confident that this administration is employing the best resources and best tools to prevent this from happening in the future,’ Yoon said.

Flaherty, who lost the Nov. 3 mayoral election to Menino by a 15 percent margin and was the first to dub the scandal ’emailgate’ in a Twitter post, has also been consistently harsh in his criticism of the Menino administration’s handling of the investigation.

‘These actions by top officials in the mayor’s inner circle are calculated violations of the law on a massive scale and underscore the culture of dishonesty in the Menino administration,’ Flaherty said in a statement after Secretary of State William Galvin first ordered the deleted emails to be recovered in September.

Menino’s campaign spokesman Nick Martin told The Daily Free Press in early October that the Menino administration was not going to let the incident distract them from the mayoral race, and it did clearly not distract voters either, as Menino won handily in November.

‘The mayor definitely values [Kineavy] as somebody that’s worked hard in the neighborhoods to bring together people,’ Martin said. ‘He’s given his time on a volunteer basis in the past to help out with campaigns.’

Coakley was unavailable for comment at press time. She has been busy campaigning for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s vacated U.S. Senate seat for Massachusetts, advancing in Tuesday’s primary to the Jan. 19 special election, along with Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, R-Wrentham.

‘It’s understandable that Martha Coakley is focused on her race, but I’m hoping the Attorney General’s office will continue its investigation,’ Yoon said.

Yoon said he hopes the issue will remain in the public eye. Because Coakley is handling the case, he said its publicity is up to her office.

‘Clearly she’s in a hotly contested Senate race, so I’m not sure when or if it receives the attention it deserves,’ he said.

Yoon said the investigation has already achieved an important revelation of potential City Hall malpractice.

‘Whether the Attorney General weighs it again or not, I hope a lesson has been learned,’ he said.

Staff writer Neal J. Riley contributed reporting to this article.

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