Former Treasurer Cahill To Pay $100,000 Penalty; Admits to Violation of State Ethics Law
BOSTON – Former Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill will pay $100,000 and serve a pre-trial probation period of 18 months to four years after admitting to violating state ethics law, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
A joint disposition agreement between the Commonwealth and Cahill was filed in court during a hearing held today before Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine M. Roach. In the disposition agreement, Cahill admitted to a civil violation of the ethics laws for his role in running more than $600,000 in Lottery ads during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
“With today’s resolution, Treasurer Cahill has now admitted that he violated our state ethics laws during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign,” AG Coakley said. “He has paid a significant penalty as a result. With the Treasurer’s admission of these violations and the payment of this fine, we believe this is a just resolution to this case.”
According to the disposition, Cahill’s actions in connection with the timing of the Lottery permission ads gave rise to an appearance of impropriety. Cahill agreed that he “knew, or should have known, that he was attempting to use his official position to secure for himself an unwarranted privilege of substantial value.”
As agreed by both parties, Lottery “permission” ads were approved at Cahill’s direction. The “permission” TV ads promoting the management of the lottery overlapped in content, timing and media markets with Cahill’s gubernatorial campaign ads which also promoted his association, and good management, of the Lottery.
The Lottery’s Permission TV and radio ads were scheduled to run from September 29, 2010 to November 30, 2010 (overlapping with the final five weeks of Cahill’s gubernatorial campaign) at a total cost of more than $1.4 million, or approximately 75% of the Lottery’s $2 million advertising appropriation for all of Fiscal Year 2011 (which went through June 30, 2011). Ultimately, at AG Coakley’s urging, the advertisements were pulled off the air on or about October 14, 2010 after $600,986.79 had been expended.
At no time did Cahill obtain advice or guidance from either the State Ethics Commission or the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance to establish a legitimate basis for running ads that promoted the success and good management of the Lottery while his own campaign ads were promoting a similar message.
The State ethics law prohibits a public official from knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals.
According to the agreement, Cahill will be placed on pre-trial probation for a minimum of 18 months with a maximum of four years. If Cahill completes payment of the full $100,000 at any point after the first 18 months of probation, the remaining balance of the four year period will be terminated. While on probation, Cahill is also prohibited from seeking election to public office or accepting any other public employment.
In April 2012, Cahill was indicted by a Suffolk County Grand Jury on one count of violating the State Ethics Law (Use of Official Position to Obtain Unwarranted Privilege) and Conspiracy to violate the State Ethics Law. Cahill was also indicted on one count of Procurement Fraud and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Procurement Fraud. A trial on the matter was held in Suffolk Superior Court. On December 12, after six days of deliberations, a jury was unable to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared.
This case was handled by Jim O’Brien, Chief of Attorney General Coakley's Public Integrity Division, along with Senior Trial Counsel Eileen O’Brien, Assistant Attorneys General Peter Sacks, Jason Cofield, Jennifer Sullivan, and Sarah Bookbinder, victim-witness advocate Nikki Antonucci, Sallyann Nelligan, Director of the Financial Investigations Division, and Massachusetts State Troopers assigned to the Attorney General's Office.