Plymouth County

‘I’m so disgusted’: Plymouth selectwoman says town manager secretly monitored her emails

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Plymouth Selectwoman Betty Cavacco said she’s “disgusted” after learning Town Manager Melissa Arrighi secretly monitored her emails for months.

Cavacco told Boston 25 News Arrighi has been keeping tabs on her emails undercover since July. She said she only recently made the discovery after sending an email to a town employee and getting an out-of-office reply from Arrighi.

Cavacco said she followed up with Arrighi the next day and Arrighi told her she monitors the emails of all the select board members.

Cavacco said she alerted the select boards, but when Arrighi met with Chairman Kenneth Tavares and Vice Chairman Richard Quintal, she admitted she was only monitoring Cavacco’s email.

“Why me? Why did she single me out? What is she trying to do?” Cavacco asked. “She held me to a different standard. She singled me out. I feel like it’s discrimination. It’s a bully tactic.”

Arrighi declined our request for an interview, saying Tavares and Town Counsel agree she should wait until after she meets with the full select board next week.

However, Arrighi did send Boston 25 News the following statement:

“Everything I have done was in the best interest of the Town and both legally and ethically, and this has been confirmed by Town Counsel.  In this case, my decision to monitor the email was difficult, but warranted, due to continuing communication challenges that were interrupting town operations. I, as Town Manager, must manage and track town affairs and must take necessary steps to ensure that happens. I will not be thwarted from those efforts.”

According to Old Colony Memorial, Arrighi said she asked the town’s IT director to direct Cavaco’s emails to her so she could stay abreast of various issues, including employee matters, though she did not cite specific instances.

“How did this happen?” Cavacco asked. “What was the physical function of her going to IT and telling them to do this? What was their response? That’s a big problem for me. It was intentional. It’s alarming.”

Arrighi told 95.9 FM WATD she only intended to monitor the emails, but never disclose she had access to them as to not make Cavacco angry.

“It’s a useful tool,” Arrighi told 95.9 FM WATD. “It’s helped me really be able to reach out to employees when an individual Selectman, in this case Selectman Cavacco had requests or things they wanted to take care of.”

“I am not a tool,” Cavacco said. “If she needs to know something from me, all she needs to do is ask and I’ll tell her. She also has five tools, five select board members, not one, so I don’t know why I’m the tool.”

Cavacco also noted she’s in an elected position and not an employee of the town.

“I don’t work for her,” Cavacco said. “I’m not her employee. She is my employee or the board’s employee.”

Cavacco acknowledged all her emails are public record, but said a process is in place for obtaining them.

“You have to go through the Freedom of Information Act and request them,” Cavacco said. “Then when they’re requested, that person, which would have been myself, would have had the opportunity to redact any sensitive or personal information. I was not given that opportunity.”

Cavacco said she’s considering filing a police report and has consulted with her own personal legal counsel. She said she wants Arrighi to face consequences for her actions.

“I think something needs to be done,” Cavacco said. “I’m not sure what. That’ll be a discussion I have with the board, but I’m not letting this go.”

Boston 25 News reached out to Tavares for comment, but didn’t hear back.

The select board members and Arrighi will meet in executive session on November 24 to discuss the matter.

“I think the board needs to stand together that they will not tolerate this kind of behavior,” Cavacco said. “I’ve lost all faith and trust. I will continue to question everything, probably now even twice as much.”