BOSTON — Former Treasurer Tim Cahill testified Friday in his public corruption trial that it never occurred to him that running advertisements touting the benefits of the state lottery he oversaw was a way to boost his failing 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
During aggressive cross-examination, a prosecutor repeatedly asked Cahill if it was just a “coincidence” that the lottery ads were slotted to run in the month before the Nov. 2 election. Assistant Attorney General Jim O’Brien asked if it ever crossed his mind that the lottery ads could help his campaign.
“No, I wasn’t thinking that,” Cahill said.
Cahill said his campaign had been running campaign ads praising his leadership at the lottery, as well as the state treasury and school building fund.
Cahill said he decided to run $1.8 million in ads for the lottery to defend the agency after the Republican Governors Association ran a series of negative ads attacking Cahill’s performance as state treasurer. Cahill said he and lottery executives believed the Republican ads had hurt the image of the lottery and wanted to defend the agency.
Cahill acknowledged that he never expressed during media interviews at the time that the lottery ads were being run to defend the lottery because of the negative Republican ads. He also acknowledged that the lottery staff never did any surveys that showed ticket sales fell in response to the Republican ads.
But he insisted that he and lottery executives believed the lottery was being hurt by the ads.
Cahill testified Thursday that it was the idea of lottery Executive Director Mark Cavanaugh to begin running the ads, which tout the benefits of the lottery, including the millions of dollars it returns to cities and towns for local projects. Cahill said he authorized those ads.
Under cross-examination Friday, Cahill said he was unaware then that Cavanaugh later developed serious concerns about the ads.
After Cahill’s testimony, both the defense and prosecution rested their cases. The jury is expected to begin deliberations Tuesday after hearing closing arguments from the lawyers and instructions on the law from the judge.
Cahill is charged with conspiracy to use his official position to gain an unwarranted privilege and conspiracy to commit procurement fraud.
O’Brien told jurors during opening statements that Cahill schemed to “reach into the pocket” of the state lottery to bolster his independent campaign as he ran a distant third in the polls, behind Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick and Republican Charles Baker.
Cahill said during cross-examination that he understood the importance of keeping his job as treasurer separate from his political and personal interests. “I always wore two hats – one as treasurer and one as a candidate, yes,” he said.