Former state treasurer Tim Cahill takes the stand in his own defense during corruption trial

Former state treasurer Timothy Cahill testified today in his corruption trial Suffolk Superior Court.
Former state treasurer Timothy Cahill testified today in his corruption trial Suffolk Superior Court. –Bill Greene/Globe Staff

Under friendly questioning from his attorney, former state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill took the stand in his own defense today, appearing at ease as he defended himself against charges that he illegally used a publicly funded lottery ad campaign to help boost his run for governor.

With his hands draped casually over the witness box, Cahill recounted for the jury how he and lottery staff wanted to run the ads to rebut ads from the Republican Governors Association that attacked lottery management.

He said he first discussed the idea for the ads on July 18, 2010, with Mark Cavanaugh, the executive director of the lottery, while they were at the Revere Beach sandcastle contest on a sweltering summer Sunday. They were there for a Cahill campaign appearance, but also wanted to discuss ways to defend the lottery against the Republican Governors Association’s assault.


“We were both anxious to respond to the attacks that were taking place,’’ Cahill said. “I felt at this point that the sooner we get the ads up, the better.’’

Prosecutors charge that Cahill used the advertising blitz not to burnish the lottery’s reputation, but to salvage Cahill’s independent campaign. They are expected to offer more biting questions when they get a chance to cross examine Cahill, either later today or tomorrow.

Cahill’s lawyers have said he considered it his “fiduciary duty’’ to protect the lottery, making the decision not as a candidate, but as the treasurer.

Despite facing up to five years in prison if convicted, Cahill has appeared upbeat in the courtroom throughout the week as tension and expectations built towards his testimony. He has been chatting up court officers during the break, joking with reporters in the gallery and has made a habit of pulling a lectern out of the way of the jury box so that jurors can easily make it to the jury room.

Cahill’s wife, Tina, has also been in courtroom and said she has been “doing good… as good as you can.’’

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