A top aide to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, at the center of an investigation into deleted e-mails, is taking an unpaid leave of absence. The mayor’s office announced late Tuesday that Michael Kineavy sought the departure.
“It is unfortunate that these things happen during political times but we hope this time will allow Michael to clear his name,” Menino said in a statement.
Kineavy, who is Menino’s chief of policy and planning, came under fire after it was revealed he had deleted thousands of e-mails from his city computer, a possible violation of state public records laws. More than 5,000 e-mails were recovered after the Massachusetts secretary of state ordered the city turn over computers to forensic experts.
The matter has become an issue in the mayoral campaign. Kineavy told The Boston Globe he has become a distraction. “That isn’t good for the mayor or the city, so until this straightens out, I won’t be a part of city government.”
Political analyst Larry DiCara agrees. He said the issue has undermined the mayor and his re-election campaign. “Michael Kineavy is loyal, very loyal to Tom Menino,” DiCara said. “And I anticipate he has decided that getting out of the firing line is beneficial to the city, and to the mayor, and to the mayor’s campaign.”
In his statement, Menino pledged continued cooperation with the secretary of state’s office. “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,” he said.
Menino says officials will post retrieved e-mails online.
Mayoral challenger and City Council President Michael Flaherty quickly weighed in on Kineavy’s leave after the announcement.
“This isn’t about Michael Kineavy. This is about the lack of transparency and honesty throughout the Menino administration,” Flaherty said in a statement. Flaherty, who will try to unseat Menino in the general election Nov. 3, reiterated his call for Attorney General Martha Coakley to begin an investigation into the deleted e-mails.