State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, an independent gubernatorial candidate already facing questions about his fund-raising practices, today sent a fund-raising appeal to the official government e-mail address of every state representative and state senator, in violation of campaign finance laws.
Jason Tait, a spokesman for the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, said state law expressly prohibits sending such appeals to a government employee’s official e-mail address.
“The campaign finance laws prohibit solicitations in government buildings,” Tait said. “That includes sending solicitations by snail mail, verbal solicitations and e-mail solicitations.”
Cahill’s campaign acknowledged the violation and apologized for it in an e-mail three hours later to state legislators.
“You might have received an e-mail this morning from our campaign related to fund-raising,” Amy Birmingham, chief of staff for the Cahill campaign, wrote in the follow-up e-mail. “If so, it was a mistake, and I wanted to write and explain.”
“The e-mail sent was intended only for supporters within our database,” Birmingham wrote. “We are managing multiple contact lists. It appears an incorrect query was pulled, thereby combining lists from our database that are normally kept separate from this type of communication. We are working to correct the mistake so it does not happen again.”
It was not clear what type of sanction, if any, Cahill’s campaign might face. In past cases, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance has ordered candidates who violate the law to return the donations they solicited or give them to charity. In other cases, in which candidates did not raise any money, the office has not taken any action.
Asked if Cahill’s e-mail had raised any money for the campaign, Birmingham said in e-mail to the Globe: “Yes, it has, but none from state lawmakers.”
Cahills’s violation brought renewed attention to his fund-raising operation, which has been sharply criticized by his Republican gubernatorial rivals, Charles D. Baker and Christy Mihos. Cahill, who left the Democratic Party in July, has raised $100,000 linked to Boston investment adviser Michael A. Ruane, who manages hundreds of millions of dollars for the state’s main pension fund.
Baker has called the fund-raising a result of “a failure to be more transparent.” Mihos has slammed Cahill for a “conflict of interest of the highest regard.” Cahill has defended the donations, saying they played no role in the decisions he has made role as chairman of the state pension fund.
The fund-raising e-mail that Cahill sent today is titled, “Help me end March on the right note,” and trumpets his recent criticism of the national health care reform law, which he says will wreck the American economy. It includes links to Cahill’s recent appearances on Fox News, and to an op ed he published in the Wall Street Journal.
“Anytime you take a bold position like we have, you can expect to be attacked, and that's exactly what has happened over the last few weeks,” Cahill wrote in the e-mail. “That's why I am writing to you today. I need your help.”
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