Ex-Massachusetts Treasurer Timothy Cahill pleaded not guilty to charges that he improperly used state lottery advertising funds to promote his unsuccessful run for governor in 2010.
Cahill, 53, was indicted April 2 for violating state ethics law, procurement fraud and conspiracy for planning to spend $1.5 million of public money to benefit his candidacy. He entered the plea today in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.
Magistrate Gary Wilson released Cahill on personal recognizance and set a trial for Sept. 24 after the defense lawyer, E. Peter Parker, said he wanted a trial “as soon as possible.”
Cahill as state treasurer gave the go-ahead to use 75 percent of the lottery’s advertising budget for television and radio spots promoting his flagging campaign, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said when she announced the charges at an April 2 press conference.
Coakley said documents showed coordination between Cahill’s independent campaign for governor and the lottery. Without naming him, the ads called the lottery “consistently well-managed.” Cahill’s effectiveness in running the lottery and allocating ticket revenue was one of his key campaign points, she said.
Parker accused Coakley of overreaching by criminalizing conduct acceptable under campaign finance laws.
‘Novel Legal Theory’
“We stand ready to put the attorney general’s novel legal theory to the test and clear Tim Cahill’s name and reputation,” the attorney told reporters after the hearing.
Parker said in a statement April 2 that his client “made the right choice” on the lottery commercials because the Republican Governors Association had run ads that undermined public confidence in the lottery.
“I understood the risks associated with running the ads,” Cahill said, reading a statement to reporters after the arraignment. “As a candidate for governor, I could be criticized. However, what I believed then and what I believe now is the decision to run those ads was in the best interest of the lottery.”
Cahill, facing a bank of microphones, apologized for reading a statement instead of talking off the cuff, saying he was out of practice in public speaking.
Cahill lost the race to incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick.
Also indicted were Scott Campbell, 41, Cahill’s former campaign manager, and Alfred Grazioso, 57, the former chief of staff of the lottery. They pleaded not guilty.
Wilson ruled that prosecutors could release a seven-page statement of the case after lawyers for Campbell and Cahill objected because of the publicity it would generate.
“I don’t think there’s anything in there that isn’t already out in the public purview,” the magistrate said.
The case is Commonwealth v. Cahill, SUCR2012-10348, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Superior Court (Boston).