Cahill lawsuit leads to indictment
Former Treasurer Tim Cahill is indicated for using Lottery ads to bolster his 2010 gubernatorial campaign
Attorney General Martha Coakley learned about the alleged political connection to a 2010 Lottery ad blitz the same way everyone else in Massachusetts did – she read about it in Tim Cahill’s own lawsuit.
Coakley announced public corruption indictments today against Cahill, the former state treasurer who waged an unsuccessful third-party run for governor in 2010; Scott Campbell, Cahill’s former campaign manager and Treasury chief of staff; and Alfred Grazioso, the Lottery’s former chief of staff. Coakley alleged that Cahill coordinated a $1.5 million ad campaign to prop up his sagging gubernatorial campaign, and that Grazioso intimidated a pair of witnesses during the AG’s investigation.
Coakley alleged that a series of Cahill campaign focus groups identified the treasurer’s management of the Lottery as a key selling point for potential voters. The day after those focus groups, Coakley said, Cahill’s campaign began crafting Lottery ads that would reinforce the gubernatorial campaign’s talking points. At the Cahill campaign’s direction, Coakley alleged, the Lottery’s advertising agency changed a script it had on file to match campaign talking points that the Lottery had been “consistently well-managed.”
Although Coakley alleged the ads were “carefully coordinated primarily to promote [Cahill’s] own campaign for governor,” the ads did not mention the treasurer by name. The ads began running in September 2010.
E. Peter Parker, Cahill’s attorney, issued a statement saying he was “surprised” by the indictment and defended the running of the ads. Parker said the ads were Cahill’s responsibility as treasurer because the Republican Governor’s Association had been running ads denigrating the Lottery’s performance and, in turn, affecting sales.
“Running the ads was the right thing for the Lottery to do,” Parker said. “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.”
Campbell is also under indictment in the Probation Department scandal for allegedly coordinating fundraising efforts by former commissioner John O’Brien in return for O’Brien’s wife and daughter getting jobs at the state Lottery and treasurer’s office. Coakley made no mention of the probation investigation at the announcement today.
Shortly after today’s indictments were announced, Cahill’s wife, Tina, tweeted that her husband was “being persecuted for challenging the status quo,” and that prosecutors were trying to destroy Cahill, “politically and personally.”
Parker also blasted Coakley, saying the indictments “wasted an enormous amount of time, energy, and scarce resources to bring criminal charges that never should have been brought.”
While there is certainly no love lost between Cahill and the state Democratic Party he left to run for governor, Coakley said she didn’t seek out Cahill for retribution. Instead, Coakley said, her office learned of the campaign’s connections to the Lottery ad blitz after Cahill sued three of his former campaign staffers.
The loose email chatter – “Yes on Lottery ads and he has plenty of money … We run ads about the lottery being well-run and putting money back in communities. I’m going to speak with the ad company about copy cahill agreed” – is at the heart of Coakley’s case against Cahill. And that chatter may never have seen the light of day if Cahill’s lawsuit hadn’t drawn them out.