Opponent seeks probe of Cahill expenses
The election opponent of state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill says the longtime lawmaker should be investigated regarding revelations that Cahill received personal payments of more than $13,000 from the state for travel expenses he already had paid out of his election campaign account.
Jack Hayes, a registered Conservative running against Cahill, a Democrat, for the 103rd Assembly District seat, fell short of saying a criminal investigation was warranted.
Cahill denies wrongdoing, but says internal administrative safeguards failed.
Hayes said some sort of probe
“Something has to be pursued here formally because this involves the public trust and that is what has been the problem for the past 10 years,” Hayes said.
On Friday, the Times Herald-Record published an article that quotes Cahill acknowledging double payments were made. He told the paper that his staff was supposed to track expenses.
“They were, of course, supposed to notify me when a state reimbursement check was to cover expenses for something previously paid by the campaign,” he said in an email to the Record, “but that didn’t happen either.”
Cahill told the newspaper said he would use personal funds to pay the campaign back.
“I am preparing to send a payment to the campaign from my personal funds for a portion of what we identified already,” he said in the email, “and will reimburse any remaining amounts after we get clarification of what is due and not due.”
In an email to the Freeman on Friday, Cahill said a mistake was made.
“Nothing illegal or improper occurred,” he said. “However, a system of checks and balances I intended to assure proper accounting did not function that way.
“We have taken steps to correct the process and to assure that the campaign is fully reimbursed,” said Cahill, who did not say how much would be reimbursed.
Cahill, D-Kingston, is seeking re-election on Nov. 8. Cahill, 60, was elected to the Assembly in 1992, lost his seat in 1994, and was returned to office in 1998.
Hayes, 73, of Gardiner, who is running only on the Conservative line in the election, has said he thinks it’s time for a change.
James Margolin, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, said the office would have no comment.
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright office said in an emailed statement Friday that it “will review allegations, and if we find any merit to a potential exposure, we would then contact the [state] Attorney General’s Office Ethics Unit, which has been set up specifically to handle corruption allegations.”
The Record said it found the double payments while reviewing five years worth of campaign expenditure records. The paper also examined state Legislature travel and expenditure records for several state legislators from the region.
Cahill told the Record he was not aware of the bookkeeping errors until it inquired.
Hayes noted the revelation comes at a time when other state officials have being convicted of wrongdoing. He pointed out that Cahill was close to former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was convicted on federal corruption charges.
Hayes said he doubts Cahill is the only legislator that could fall under a cloud of suspicion involving travel expenses.
“I strongly doubt that he is the only one,” Hayes said.
The Record said it examined financial disclosure data filed with the state Board of Elections by Cahill’s campaign.
The paper’s review of records concentrated on filings during the past two years.
“From January 2015 to July 2016, Cahill had the most travel-related campaign expenditures of the seven state Assembly members and four senators representing the mid-Hudson,” the paper said.
From November 2014 to July 2016, Cahill used funds from his Friends of Kevin Cahill campaign account to pay more than $13,000 in expenses “connected with traveling to and attending conferences across the country,” the Record said.
“In the same period, Cahill’s office billed the state Assembly travel office nearly $16,000 in connection with the same conferences,” the paper said.
“Cahill went to 10 conferences in the continental United States in that time, with trips to San Francisco, Charleston, S.C., Indianapolis, Seattle, San Antonio, Little Rock, Ark., and Portland, Ore. He also attended one conference in Albany and two in Cooperstown,” the paper said.