So, Martha Coakley indicted Tim Cahill today based on ads he ran touting the lottery while he was running for Governor.
A Suffolk County grand jury has handed up indictments against former state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill on corruption charges that his campaign allegedly used $1.65 million in taxpayer-funded state lottery advertising to boost his floundering 2010 gubernatorial bid, Attorney General Martha Coakley said today. Cahill … was charged with directing the Massachusetts Lottery to launch the media blitz intended to run from mid-September though the November election….
[Coakley] said Cahill faces charges of violating state ethics laws, violating state procurement laws, and conspiracy charges in connection with both those alleged crimes. The procurement and ethics law violations each carry possible sentences of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Also indicted were Scott Campbell, Cahill’s former campaign manager, and Al Grazioso, the lottery chief of staff, Coakley said.
Cahill’s attorney, E. Peter Parker, said in a statement that “the truth is that nobody did anything wrong.”
Ernie opines that this indictment isn’t much better than the probation one. And the case does post an interesting question. Let’s say, just hypothetically, that you’re an elected official charged with overseeing a multi-million dollar state-run operation; you’re running for another office; and some outside group that wants to kill your candidacy runs a couple million bucks in TV ads saying how badly you’ve mismanaged that operation, thus calling into question not only you but also the operation you oversee. Is it illegal to run ads defending the management of the operation? And if it is, should it be?
I’m fascinated by the reaction across the aisle. I wasn’t sure whether they’d be delighted (because they still believe, incorrectly, that Tim Cahill cost Charlie Baker the election), or whether they’d see Cahill as yet another victim of the alleged Massachusetts Democratic “machine” (the message being if you cross the machine, in Cahill’s case by leaving the party and becoming an independent, the machine will bite you on the behind). So far, reaction mostly seems to be of the former variety.
Oh, and speaking of machines, Paul Ferro’s clever scheme to use the Marlborough Republican City Committee to funnel walking-around money all over the state was upheld by OCPF today. Email (no link):
In a brief, three-paragraph, letter dated March 29th to Marlborough Republican City Committee Chairman Paul R. Ferro, OCPF General Counsel Gregory Birne wrote:
“There is no reason to believe that (the) committee violated the campaign finance law” further stating “In addition, a local party committee may make contributions to candidates outside of the municipality in which the committee is organized.”
Of course, OCPF’s job is to determine what the law says, not what it should say. And when the news of what Ferro had been up to became public, I said that it seemed quite possible that what he was doing was legal, and the real question was whether it should be. Today, we found out the answer to part one. Should we talk about part two?