By WGBH News
April 2, 2012
BOSTON — Former Massachusetts state treasurer Timothy Cahill was indicted Monday on public corruption and fraud charges stemming from his 2010 campaign for governor.
Attorney General Martha Coakley said Cahill used publicly funded lottery ads to advance his candidacy.
“We allege that Treasurer Cahill gained an unwarranted and unlawful privilege by his ability to launch a television ad campaign, ostensibly on behalf of the Massachusetts state lottery, but one that was actually carefully coordinated primarily to promote his own campaign for governor,” she said.
Cahill was running for governor, serving as treasurer and overseeing the lottery at the same time. When the ads ran in September 2010, Cahill's campaign was lagging; he was far behind in the polls and being pummeled by Republican attack ads.
Under state law, ads for the lottery were supposed to be kept separate from ads for Cahill’s campaign. However, Coakley said Cahill and his top aides timed and scripted the ads to show Cahill in the best possible light.
"When the Cahill campaign conducted focus groups, they wanted to identify a message that would resonate with voters for the Cahill for Governor campaign," she said. "The significant takeaway from those focus groups at that time was that the treasurer’s leadership of a successful and well managed lottery was the main selling point for him as a candidate for governor."
The ads called the Massachusetts lottery the most successful in America, but they never mentioned Cahill's name or showed his face.
Cahill’s former campaign manger Scott Campbell was also indicted "on charges of conspiracy to violate state ethics law, procurement fraud and conspiracy to commit procurement fraud,” Coakley said.
> > READ: The Attorney General's press release
> > WATCH: Mass. politics-watchers Conor Yunits and Warren Tolman discuss the charges on Greater Boston
In a press release from his attorney, Cahill denied wrongdoing, saying he had to run the ads because the Republican Governors Association ran attack ads against him. Cahill said he was concerned the lottery's reputation has been so seriously damaged that ticket sales would be impacted.
The charges are punishable by heavy fines and up to 5 years in prison.
E. Peter Parker, counsel for Cahill, released the following statement Monday afternoon:
I am surprised to hear about an indictment.
I have seen no evidence of criminal conduct by anybody, which does not surprise me because the truth is that nobody did anything wrong.
Permission ads were run by the Lottery in response to [Republican Governors Association] ads attacking the integrity of the Lottery.
The RGA attack ads had undermined public confidence in the Lottery and hurt sales measured year over year.
Running the ads was the right thing for the Lottery to do.
Not running the ads because the RGA or an overzealous Attorney General might later question whether the ads might have benefitted the Treasurer politically would have been the wrong thing to do.
Treasurer Cahill had an obligation to maximize Lottery revenues. He and the Lottery made the right choice to run the ads.
We are confident that a jury will agree and in the end, the Attorney General will have wasted an enormous amount of time, energy and scarce resources to bring criminal charges that never should have been brought.
In addition, Cahill’s wife Tina posted a comment on Twitter, saying, "A good man is being persecuted for challenging the status quo. It’s not enough to be defeated, you need to be destroyed politically & personally.”
The indictment comes on the heels of a nationwide report on state corruption risk. See the Massachusetts results and leave your comments.
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