Story on lottery audit mischaracterized

By Andrea Estes
Globe Staff / October 28, 2010

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THE CLAIM: In a radio ad that began airing yesterday, the Democratic candidate for state auditor, Suzanne Bump, a former state representative and Patrick administration official, asserts that the Globe wrote in a story last week that Republican Mary Z. Connaughton, her opponent, was “part of the biggest financial scandal and coverup in the history of the state lottery’’ and when “confronted with a mountain of evidence, all she had to say for herself was that she did a good job.’’

THE FACTS: The Globe reported Oct. 23 that Connaughton was chief financial officer at the state lottery when state Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci issued a scathing 1997 audit of its accounting practices. Among the questionable policies identified was the use of the “doughnut fund,’’ a way that some promotional and entertainment expenses were funneled to the lottery’s advertising agency, which then billed them back to the lottery as unspecified “miscellaneous’’ expenses. These expenses were not itemized and, therefore, not subject to scrutiny by state officials or the public. The audit and a subsequent one also found that, under Connaughton’s tenure, the lottery had been circumventing a legislative cap on advertising spending and that the amount sales agents owed the lottery increased. But the Globe never called the episode the biggest scandal in the history of the state lottery. The story did report that Connaughton defended her tenure at the agency.

THE ANALYSIS: Connaughton, an outspoken Republican who also served on the board of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, has been picking up endorsements all over the state. Bump, who has come under fire herself for collecting property tax deductions from two communities, mischaracterized the Globe story in an effort to tarnish Connaughton’s credentials. The two are locked in a tight race, polls indicate.