Ex-Mass. treasurer on trial called do-gooder, wily
BOSTON (AP) — Former state treasurer Tim Cahill was alternately portrayed Tuesday as an altruistic public servant who defended the state lottery against an attack and a shrewd politician who schemed to "reach into the pocket" of the lottery to use $1.5 million in taxpayer-funded advertising money for his 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
As prosecutors and Cahill's lawyers made their closing arguments in his public corruption trial, the jury was left with two vastly different pictures of Cahill and his motivation for approving a lottery ad blitz during the month before the election.
Cahill's lawyer, Jeff Denner, said he did it because the lottery had been battered by a series of attack ads the Republican Governors Association ran against Cahill, who ran as an independent.
"In plain English, Timothy Cahill ... has committed no crime," Denner told the jury. "It was an appropriate advertising response to what was going on."
But Assistant Attorney General James O'Brien said a string of emails and text messages among Cahill's campaign advisers show that it was obvious that the campaign considered the lottery ads free political advertising for Cahill, who was also promoting his work as the head of the lottery in separate gubernatorial campaign ads.
O'Brien mocked Cahill's claim during his testimony that it never crossed his mind that the taxpayer-funded ads promoting the benefits of the state lottery running at the same time as his own campaign ads touting his management of the lottery could promote his gubernatorial campaign.
"Do you believe that?" O'Brien asked the jury. He compared Cahill to a kid who gets his "hand caught in the cookie jar" and then denies it.
Cahill is charged with conspiracy to use his official position to gain an unwarranted privilege and conspiracy to commit procurement fraud.
O'Brien said the law allows elected officials to promote the job they do while campaigning but "within boundaries."
He told the jury that Cahill broke the law because he used his office as treasurer to get a benefit from the state lottery.
The defense, however, emphasized that the idea for the lottery ads did not come from Cahill, but from the lottery's executive director, who first suggested the ads in July 2010.
Denner said that if Cahill really wanted to use the lottery advertising money to boost his campaign, he would have pushed for the ads to run immediately instead of waiting until September, when "he had no reasonable chance to win the election" with polls showing his support had dropped to 5 percent.
Denner described Cahill as a "tough Quincy kid following his dreams" who "made himself very vulnerable" when he left the Democratic Party and ran as an independent against Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick and Republican Charles Baker.
The jury was expected to begin deliberations Tuesday afternoon.