BOSTON Former state Treasurer Timothy Cahill is defending himself against charges that he used taxpayer-funded ads intended to promote the Massachusetts Lottery to instead boost his unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2010.
The indictments, announced Monday by Attorney General Martha Coakley, allege that Cahill abused his position of trust and put his political ambitions ahead of the public interest.
The state treasurer oversees the lottery.
Cahill denied the charges Tuesday.
“We will fight these charges and do whatever we have to do to clear my name and my reputation,” he said outside his Quincy home.
Cahill said the ads in question were in response to a $2 million ad blitz against him, and the lottery, by the Republican Governors Association during the gubernatorial campaign. He said the ads were necessary to boost lottery revenue.
“My job as treasurer was to maximize revenue for the lottery, which we did, which I did,” Cahill said. “And that was my job and I performed that duty with or without a campaign.
“Knowing what I knew then, and even what I know today, we’d do it again because it was the right thing to do.”
The $1.5 million lottery ad campaign began airing in September 2010 and highlighted the success of the lottery in helping provide funding for local communities. It did not feature Cahill or mention him by name.
Cahill is due in court for an initial hearing Wednesday. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the ethics and procurement fraud charges. Two former aides also were named in the indictments.
Cahill served two terms as treasurer as a Democrat before running for governor as an independent. He finished a distant third behind Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, who won re-election, and Republican Charles Baker.
Patrick called the allegations against Cahill troubling.
“If proven in court, they warrant serious consequences,” he said in a statement.
Coakley said the indictments are the first issued by her office under the state’s new ethics law signed by Patrick in 2009.
Before the law, Coakley said, the allegation of conflict of interest would have been a civil rather than a criminal violation.
The new law was prompted by a wave of political scandals, including one that led to the indictment and conviction of former Democratic House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi on federal corruption charges. DiMasi maintained his innocence as he reported to prison in November to begin an eight-year sentence.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom