Calls for Arroyo to step down from Boston City Council after Rollins investigation

Ricardo Arroyo speaks during the Suffolk District Attorney Forum at the Suffolk County House of Corrections. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Ricardo Arroyo speaks during the Suffolk District Attorney Forum at the Suffolk County House of Corrections. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

At least one Boston city councilor and a conservative advocacy group are calling for Councilor Ricardo Arroyo to resign following the release of two federal investigations tying him to alleged election meddling by U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins.

The reports, by the Department of Justice's Inspector General and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, found Rollins attempted to influence the race for Suffolk County District Attorney in 2022 by leaking negative information about interim D.A. Kevin Hayden, in an effort to help Arroyo, her preferred successor to the office.

Arroyo eventually lost the election. But the revelations this week shook Boston's political arena. Rollins has said she will resign by Friday. Now, there are calls for Arroyo to do the same.

"I'm requesting that he does do the right thing and step down," At-Large City Councilor Erin Murphy said in an interview. "This definitely steps outside of the normal back-stabbing, rumor-spreading type things that can and do happen in elections and politics."

A spokesperson for Arroyo declined to comment. He referred to a previous statement where Arroyo pointed out that "neither of these reports allege any wrongdoing on my part."

Still, Arroyo's in-depth collaboration with Rollins is prominently featured in both investigations in embarrassing detail. The 155-page Department of Justice report contains 299 mentions of Arroyo, and includes portions of 380 private texts and encrypted chats between him and Rollins over two months.

The investigative reports portray the U.S. Attorney as a frequent informal advisor to Arroyo and his campaign, at one point even line-editing a campaign statement. In one text, Rollins advised Arroyo to share a negative news story about Hayden with "every single one of your endorsers." Arroyo responded with a "like," the report said.

On Aug. 22, with the Democratic primary just two weeks away, Arroyo texted Rollins, "Are y’all announcing an investigation into [the former Transit Officer] situation with Hayden?"

He was referring to Hayden's allegedly dropping an investigation into a transit police officer who was accused of pulling a gun on a driver and then covering it up. It was a probe Rollins had started in her former role as district attorney.

Rollins allegedly shared nonpublic Department of Justice information with The Boston Globe and Boston Herald indicating that Hayden could face a federal investigation for his handling of the police misconduct case. Arroyo seemed to encourage this intervention by Rollins; in one of many texts to her he said news of a Hayden probe "would be the best thing I can have happen at this moment."

The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for state government accountability, said it's asking the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to further investigate the allegations laid out in the federal reports.

Arroyo "has no business being on the city council, and being a 'public servant' for his people,” Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance spokesperson Paul Diego Craney said.


Around the time of the text exchanges, the Boston Globe also was working on a series of articles showing Arroyo had been investigated for sexual assault in high school, but was never charged.

"Im [sic] literally fighting a punch meant to end my career," he wrote to Rollins in a text.

"Understood," Rollins responded. "Keep fighting and campaigning. I’m working on something."

Murphy said the investigators' revelations disqualify Arroyo from continuing to serve in public office.

“I mean he was easily welcoming her support," she said. "Like, he wanted her to tamper in that election to advance his own political power."

Murphy and Arroyo have clashed before. They're on opposite sides of the fierce and expensive battle over the city's redistricting map that's further dividing the already fractured council.

Council President Ed Flynn on Thursday did not directly respond to the allegations against Arroyo. But in a statement, he made clear that they are concerning to him.

"Recent reports and troubling information has once again cast a shadow over the Boston City Council, causing a major distraction during both the budget and redistricting process," Flynn said in the statement. "This is hurting our city at a critical time, and the residents of Boston deserve better."

Rollins' attorney in a statement this week called most of the allegations against her "minor process fouls." But the DOJ Inspector General's report said that when investigators asked her about the correspondence with Arroyo, she stated, “I’m not saying these communications are appropriate.”

She defended them as advice for a personal friend, according to the report. On reading through her communications with Arroyo as part of her Inspector General interview in January, however, she said it was "a very sobering moment.”


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Walter Wuthmann State Politics Reporter
Walter Wuthmann is a state politics reporter for WBUR.



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