By Colleen Quinn
State House News Service
BOSTON — State Treasurer Steven Grossman has steered clear of the type of Lottery advertisements that got his predecessor into trouble when he ran for governor.
Grossman, one of five Democrats running for governor, said Tuesday that the Lottery does not run so-called “permission” ads — advertisements that promote the Lottery’s profile. The way to make money with advertising is to promote specific games to boost ticket sales, he said.
“I have made it pretty clear, and we’ve made it pretty clear, our advertising plans are all about promoting individual games. That’s how we spend the money, promoting games, promoting the raffle, promoting the holiday season,” Grossman said after a monthly Lottery Commission meeting.
For the second consecutive year, the Lottery this summer received a $5 million advertising budget from the Legislature. Lottery officials convinced lawmakers the bigger ad budget would drive sales up, and in turn Lottery profits that are returned to cities and towns to help run municipal operations.
Grossman said he and Lottery officials decided early on in his tenure not run “permission ads” like those run in the past because he believes there is a direct correlation between promoting games and increasing sales.
During fiscal 2013, the Lottery posted its second highest profit level, hauling in $952 million on record sales of $4.8 billion. From July 1, 2012 to June 30, sales topped the previous record of $4.723 billion set in fiscal 2012, when the Lottery generated $983.4 million in profits.
“It has always been about cause and effect. Invest the money and increase the profit,” Grossman said. “We have always thought the way you do that is promote individual games, and particularly, create energy and excitement around the holiday time of the year.”
Former state Treasurer Timothy Cahill was charged under a 2009 law that criminalized actions that had previously been considered a civil ethics infraction.
He was accused of conspiracy to use the State Lottery as a marketing arm of his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. During his trial, Cahill argued his deployment of Lottery ads were designed to boost the Lottery, in the face of attacks on his management of it from the Republican Governors Association, and executed in his role as chief overseer of the agency. A former Democrat running as an independent, Cahill came in a distant third to Gov. Deval Patrick and Republican Charlie Baker.
After his trial ended with a hung jury, Attorney General Martha Coakley and Cahill reached a deal that allowed him to avoid a second trial with a $100,000 civil fine, and to be put under “pretrial” probation.
In the agreement, Cahill agreed to a chain of events, laying out facts that for the most part the prosecutors and defense attorneys did not dispute. Starting on Sept. 29, 2010, the Lottery’s self-promotional ads were “directly overlapping in content, timing and media markets with Cahill’s gubernatorial campaign TV ads, some of which promoted his association with, and good management of the Lottery.”
The agreed-upon facts stopped short of the criminal conspiracy prosecutors attempted to lay out involving the self-promotional Lottery ads nicknamed “permission” ads.
When asked if the Cahill case weighed into the Lottery’s advertising strategy, Grossman said, “We never intended to run ads in any other way other than promoting individual products, individual games, and seasonal purchases around the holiday time. That was always our intent.”
The treasurer has taken other steps to lower his personal profile, removing his picture and name from unclaimed property brochures at the State Treasury.
In his campaign for governor, Grossman said he is traveling around the state as much as he can to build relationships.
“As I said to somebody the other day, I said the two words I would like people to use about me, ‘He’s everywhere,’ And we are doing our best,” Grossman said.
Along with Grossman, Democrats vying for the Corner Office include Juliette Kayyem, a former Patrick administration official, former Obama administration official Donald Berwick, and Wellesley executive Joseph Avellone. State Sen. Daniel Wolf, D-Harwich, suspended his gubernatorial campaign last week in light of a state Ethics Commission opinion regarding a conflict of interest with his state Senate seat due to his ownership stake in Cape Air — the company he founded 25 years ago.