Will Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Colleague Affect Walsh Protégé’s Congressional Ambitions?

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/08/24/will-sexual-harassment-complaint-against-colleague-affect-walsh-proteges-congressional-ambitions/

UPDATE — 11: 45 p.m. — Boston City Hall spokesman confirms Health and Human Services Director Felix G. Arroyo has been fired from his job.

Days after confirming he is leaving his top post in City Hall as Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s chief of staff to run for the Merrimack Valley’s soon-to-be-vacated Congressional seat, the Boston Globe-described “wunderkind” Daniel Arrigg Koh now finds himself — at least peripherally — involved in the adjudication of a sexual harassment complaint.

The Andover native is mentioned in the female City Hall employee’s complaint to the state’s anti-discrimination agency against her former boss, Felix G. Arroyo, the city’s health and human services chief, because Koh’s role as chief of staff involves managing employee matters. The unnamed woman alleges Arroyo made inappropriate sexual remarks to her and “grabbed my bottom on several occasions and spanked it frequently.” 

The confidential complaint, provided by the woman to the Globe, states that she met with Koh and a human resources employee in July.

After the woman came forward, Arroyo was suspended with pay, but Human Resources Director Vivian Leonard apparently informed the alleged victim that she was being moved out of health and human services and over to the city’s Department of Public Facilities, which the woman interpreted as a demotion. Walsh in comments made earlier this week described it as a “lateral transfer.” 

Complaints submitted to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination are exempt from public records laws. The Globe has so far declined to publish the full complaint online, or even a version redacting the alleged victim’s identity.

The woman, according to the Globe, has claimed that her perceived demotion would never have happened without Walsh’s approval. Koh’s role in the woman’s reassignment is unclear. According to the city’s website, Koh as chief of staff “advises Mayor Martin J. Walsh on key issues and helps him execute his vision for the City and its 18,000 employees.”

The Massachusetts Republican Party pounced on the Koh tie-in Thursday, filing public-records requests for Koh’s email correspondence concerning the Arroyo complaint and an unrelated federal investigation of alleged union-related strong-arm tactics at City Hall.

“As he moves across Massachusetts to climb the political ladder, Daniel Koh must answer questions about his leadership and conduct at City Hall,” said Kirsten Hughes, chairman of the state Republican Party, in a written statement. “The MassGOP is committed to helping voters understand how the City Hall run by Mr. Koh experienced so many troubling allegations of wrongdoing in a short 3.5 years.”

Koh, who still works for the city of Boston, on Thursday afternoon directed questions to City Hall spokesman Laura Oggeri, who later that night provided the New Boston Post with a statement concerning Arroyo’s job status:

“Felix Arroyo has been terminated from the City of Boston after a comprehensive internal investigation. The City will immediately begin to search for candidates to fill the Chief of Health and Human Services position and we hope to announce an appointment soon.”

Oggeri did not immediately answer whether Arroyo’s dismissal means his accuser will return to her old department.

Arroyo, who the Globe now reports may soon find himself under police investigation, has been lying low. A spokesman for Arroyo had earlier vehemently denied his accuser’s claims as baseless.  

Boston Herald report outlines the potential for the Arroyo complaint to affect Walsh’s reelection bid against challenger Tito Jackson but makes no mention of how the investigation may affect the Democrat Koh’s efforts to win the seat being vacated by departing Democratic U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas.

Koh’s work background prior to assuming the role of Walsh’s chief of staff included a stint as an adviser to former Mayor Thomas Menino in addition to helming HuffPost Live, the Huffington Post’s online streaming network, where, the city’s Boston.gov website notes, he “served as chief of staff to chair, president, and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington, aiding in the oversight of the 700-person international organization.”