Defense attorney: Cahill ran ad campaign as act of public service, not political ambition

Former state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill ran ads promoting the state lottery not to boost his flagging independent campaign for governor in 2010 but as a selfless act of public service after he knew his campaign had already failed, Cahill’s defense attorney said today at his corruption trial in Suffolk Superior Court.

“Timothy Cahill has committed absolutely no crime,” attorney Jeffrey Denner said in his closing argument.

But prosecutor James O’ Brien in his closing argument told jurors, “Make no mistake: Tim Cahill wanted to be governor.”

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O’Brien, head of the attorney general’s newly created Public Integrity Division, criticized Cahill for saying the political benefit of lottery ads never crossed his mind. He said it was obvious to all involved. He compared Cahill with a child caught with his hand in a cookie jar, denying what is obvious to everyone.

Both Cahill and a former top aide, Scott Campbell, are accused of violating state law by approving a $1.8 million ad campaign for the lottery when Cahill’s campaign was foundering after a series of attack ads by the Republican Governors Association, as well as internal problems with the Cahill campaign.

Cahill, who as treasurer oversaw the lottery, testified last week that his only interest was in protecting his agency’s image, not in advancing his own political career. Campbell did not testify.

Charles Rankin, Campbell’s defense attorney, told the jury today that the prosecution was “downright offensive and a gross miscarriage of justice.”

Denner, Cahill’s defense attorney, speaking in a quiet, calm voice, told the jury Cahill was a “tough Quincy kid following his dreams” who became “very easy prey” when he left the Democratic Party and ran in the three-way race, along with Democratic Governor Deval Patrick and Republican Charles Baker.

Denner said that ads from the RGA, “a carpetbagging outside Republican group,” which believed Cahill was siphoning votes away from Baker, killed Cahill’s campaign and tarnished the lottery itself.

Denner said that if Cahill had wanted the ads to help his campaign, Cahill did a “horrible, horrible job” because the ads came too late to save it.

Cahill’s wife, Tina, shook her head as O’Brien delivered his closing argument.

Abandoning the lectern and pacing slowly in front of the jury box, O’Brien pointed to evidence that Cahill received lottery ad scripts on the same day he was cutting campaign ads that touted the lottery.

O’Brien also tried to cast doubt on Cahill’s credibility, asking why Cahill could remember meetings in 2010 that bolstered his defense, but not the prosecution.

Cahill only recalled “what he wanted when it helped him,” O’Brien said.

He exhorted the jury to hold Cahill and Campbell “responsible for a betrayal that involved planning, plotting, and scheming.”

He closed by saying Cahill “betrayed the office” of treasurer and spent the public’s money “as if it was his own.”

Nine women and seven men listened to the arguments. Four will end up being designated alternates; the remaining 12 of whom will decide the case.

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