McQuillan admitted sending the text message on an impulse as he watched D’Agostino’s interview from his home on a live Internet stream from City Hall. He sent the text just after Councilor Jamie Atkinson questioned D’Agostino about a decision by one of his references, Lawrence District Court Clerk Andrew Gradzewicz, to withdraw his recommendation at the last minute.
“This is news to me,” D’Agostino responded to Atkinson’s question.
“That’s a lie he tried to contact gradzewicz today!!!!” McQuillan texted to D’Agostino at 6:53 p.m., midway through the council interview.
McQuillan’s use of the word “he” in referring to D’Agostino suggests he intended to send it to someone else, but McQuillan said Thursday that the text was intended for D’Agostino.
Ciulla said the intended target of the text should be part of any investigation, which he said should be conducted by Methuen police. He said police also should investigate whether other councilors were receiving texts from McQuillan during D’Agostino’s interview.
Ciulla said police also should investigate how McQuillan knew that D’Agostino earlier in the day may have contacted Gradzewicz about his decision to withdraw his job recommendation, as McQuillan alleged in his text. He said police also should investigate whether Gradzewicz was unduly pressured to withdraw his recommendation.
“How does the city solicitor have intimate knowledge of Gradzewicz’s letter and then sends a text to the candidate during the interview process?” Ciulla asked.
McQuillan declined to comment on any part of the episode yesterday, including Ciulla’s request for a police investigation. D’Agostino also would not comment.
“I’m not going to interject myself or interfere with the process, unlike others,” D’Agostino said.
The council may vote on a new solicitor as early as Monday. The second finalist is William Faraci, a former assistant solicitor for Haverhill. Rather than hiring one of the two, the council may consider scrapping the search and re-advertising the position.