Under methodical questioning by a prosecutor, a terse and occasionally testy Timothy P. Cahill acknowledged Friday that his campaign operatives had multiple contacts with the Boston ad firm that was being paid public money to craft lottery ads.
Prosecutors allege that the communication demonstrates that Cahill, a former state treasurer, was illegally conspiring to use publicly funded lottery ads to boost his flagging run for governor in 2010.
But Cahill continued to insist that his only interest was in protecting the lottery’s image, not his own political career.
Cahill was subjected to three hours of interrogation by a prosecutor who walked him, point by point, through a timeline of emails, phone records, and text messages between his campaign operatives and executives at the lottery’s ad agency, Hill Holliday.
Cahill, occasionally sparring with the prosecutor, testified that he did not recall many of the calls he made or emails he received. He did, however, concede how closely his campaign activity dovetailed with the launch of the lottery ads.
He acknowledged that, on July 26, his campaign conducted a focus group that showed the lottery’s reputation was a major selling point for his candidacy.
The next day, he told his campaign’s media consultant, Dane Strother, that the lottery had $2 million to spend on ads and that Strother could call Mike Sheehan, Hill Holliday’s chief executive.
Later that day, Strother sent a text message to Adam Meldrum, the campaign manager.
“I just got the go ahead on everything we discussed,” Strother wrote. “Yes, on the lottery ads and he has plenty of money. Cahill thinks most of $2 million is there. We just found a million for extra publicity, but Cahill can’t be in the ad. But we run ads about the lottery being well run and putting money back in communities. I’m going to speak with an ad company about copy, Cahill agreed.”
The next day, July 28, Cahill called Sheehan at Hill Holliday. An hour later, another Hill Holliday executive wrote an internal email saying that Cahill wanted to run lottery ads, have them begin as soon as possible, and end on Nov. 4, which would have been two days after general election on Nov. 2.
On the stand, Cahill insisted that he did not want Strother involved in shaping the lottery ads, despite telling him to call Sheehan at Hill Holliday. “He was doing research to make sure the ads we did were truthful,” Cahill testified. “He was trying to make sure were saying what was correct about the lottery.”
Today was the second day Cahill was on the witness stand. On Thursday, he was questioned by his own attorney, which gave the former treasurer the opportunity to make his case that the ads were aimed at helping the public as a whole, not him personally.
Cahill was indicted following an investigation by Attorney General Martha Coakley and her newly created Public Integrity Division. Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.