Probe Clears Treasurer Severance Packages

December 29, 2005 ( - An outside investigator has cleared Massachusetts state Treasurer Tim Cahill of any wrongdoing in connection with a half dozen employee severance packages in Cahill's office in which the employees were sworn to secrecy.

Officials on Wednesday released the report of Scott Harshbarger, a former state attorney general, who spent two months looking into the severance packages worked out with the employees since Cahill assumed his post in 2003, Reuters reported.

“We have not identified any legal or factual basis to conclude these agreements were illegal or wrong,” Harshbarger told Cahill in a report of the probe.

The agreements prohibit anyone from saying why the staffers left, and Cahill said he chose them to protect proprietary information in the office.

The report also urged Cahill to be careful when negotiating similar settlements in the future because the confidentiality clause is designed to protect employees not the agency.  

Harshbarger urged the Treasury, Attorney General’s Office and Secretary of State to develop best practices for such agreements – a recommendation Cahill said he plans to implement.