A barrage of vicious Internet attacks on Boston city councilors seems to be coming from one or more of their own colleagues — revelations that have deepened tensions on a body already riven by political and personal differences.
Under the screen name “Interested Party,” a person or people using a subscription account shared by city councilors and their staff has commented prolifically on Globe stories for more than a year, attacking nearly every member of the council, along with Mayor Michelle Wu and her staff, in posts that range from ridiculous and snarky to offensive and borderline threatening.
Wu is “simply not up to the job of being mayor,” someone using the account opined; the more liberal members of the City Council are “progressive anti white nutjobs.” On one story, about a missing East Boston woman and a letter from six city councilors pressing for more information, the account remarked, “I wish these 6 city councilors would go missing.”
Globe commenters with strong opinions are hardly a rarity. But the comments posted by the Interested Party account stand out because they appear to be authored by one or more of those public officials’ colleagues — members of the City Council or council employees — according to account details and people with knowledge of the subscription.
The account is linked to a shared council e-mail address with the domain @boston.gov, and its password has been circulated among city councilors and their aides so they can stay up to date. Several dozen people who work on the fifth floor of City Hall have access, making it difficult to identify the person, or people, who use the account.
The Globe learned about the account from City Hall sources, confirmed the connection to the e-mail address with them, and later corroborated it independently.
Interested Party’s gripes can be, at times, banal. But other times, the barbs are derogatory and quite pointed, often targeting councilors of color or lamenting a society the user feels has grown too politically correct. Dozens of comments were removed after they appeared online because they violated Globe guidelines, which bar personal attacks.
For the many councilors who have been targeted, it’s a particularly painful reminder of the deep divides on the body, which are not just ideological but personal, and all too often racial. Many said the posts cross the line of acceptable professional behavior, and one is calling for an investigation.
“To know that someone from the inside is causing more hostility towards me in particular makes me feel really uncomfortable, and in many ways unsafe,” said Councilor Julia Mejia, a frequent target of the account.
And Wu said in a statement that “we show our constituents the respect they deserve by modeling respectful and honest public dialogue rather than giving in to toxic, cowardly anonymous attacks.”
Commenting prolifically for more than a year, the person or people using the Interested Party account have weighed in on everything from “Saturday Night Live” (“Nobody wants a 90 minute lecture about trans lifestyle”) to the town of Brookline (“start building HOUSING”) and the Pelham House Resort on Cape Cod (“great for an instagram background, but if you go for dinner you’ll leave hungry and feeling robbed”).
A notable share of the comments attack Black leaders, institutions, or neighborhoods: local NAACP leader Tanisha Sullivan, Representative Ayanna Pressley, the Bay State Banner, former “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, the new “Embrace” statue honoring Martin Luther King Jr. (“the ugliest piece of public art in Boston”), and Roxbury and Mattapan (”desirable? Come on people”).
But the favorite targets of the account appear to be colleagues on the fifth floor of City Hall: Wu, her staff, and the council itself.
Someone using the Interested Party account complains that Wu has been “aloof, cold, and disrespectful to those in state government” and laments “a mayoral campaign that made promises that a mayoral administration can never deliver.” The account calls her senior aides a “crack sqaud [sic] of savvy rich kids” and “ivy grads who couldn’t find most city neighborhoods on a map.” Another frequent target: Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge, “bike surpremacist [sic].”
The council itself is unaware of “its own impotence,” a group of “out of control” “layabouts,” the Interested Party account wrote.
Among the account’s hundreds of comments were direct strikes on at least 11 of 13 councilors. Without offering evidence, Interested Party has leveled allegations of legal wrongdoing by Mejia and Councilor Kendra Lara. One comment, which was posted but later blocked by Globe moderators, includes a vulgar sexual remark about Councilors Gabriela Coletta and Ricardo Arroyo.
Councilor Kenzie Bok, who represents Beacon Hill and will soon take charge of the city’s public housing authority, is called a “phd ultra wealthy trust fund baby” unable to understand the “struggle of bostons poorest”; the council president is disparagingly nicknamed “Special Ed” Flynn. Arroyo is the subject of many of the most vicious attacks, with several citing years old sexual assault allegations leveled against him as a teenager, which he has denied and for which he was never charged.
Three other councilors — Tania Fernandes Anderson, Ruthzee Louijeune, and Brian Worrell — are among those who should “go missing.” And the person or people using the account have extensive complaints about the council’s 2022 redistricting process, which was led by Councilor Liz Breadon.
Worrell told the Globe “the improper use of a government e-mail address is completely unacceptable.”
“An internal investigation must be conducted with the party found responsible terminated immediately,” he added.
Flynn, the council president, said he was “disappointed that someone would abuse a privilege meant to gather news and information” and added that he is implementing an anti-bullying policy.
Only two councilors, both from Dorchester, seem to have been spared the account’s ire: Erin Murphy and Frank Baker, who are known as two of the body’s more conservative voices.
Murphy and Baker both told the Globe they have never left comments on the account.
“My mother taught me better,” Murphy said.
“If I had something to say to somebody, I’m going to either call them or go right to their office and say it to them,” said Baker, who once earned praise from Interested Party.
For the most part, the account is consistent in views and tone: critical of Wu, exasperated with council progressives, scathing about new social norms that embrace transgender people and polyamory. But there are a few stray comments that strike different notes, perhaps indicating that more than one person is using the account.
In response to Globe queries, all 13 city councilors denied authoring the Interested Party comments.
In a torrent of Interested Party comments, there have been a few clues about the identity of the person or people using the account, including one comment addressing “fellow landlords” and one citing Irish ancestry.
One comment left in January seems to indicate that Interested Party works in city government. Mocking a particular Globe story, the account wrote, “I’m so glad my employer pays for this subscription and I don’t.”