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Boston and Beyond

November 14, 2012

Prosecutor questions former Lottery chief in Cahill case

BOSTON — In his third and final day of testimony in the trial of former Treasurer Tim Cahill, former Lottery Executive Director Mark Cavanagh was challenged on some of his earlier answers by prosecutor James O’Brien.

O’Brien questioned Cavanagh’s assertion that as executive director of the Lottery he — not Cahill — had the final say on whether to run a series of ads presenting the Lottery as well managed that ran in the final weeks of Cahill’s unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 2010.

“Where did the buck stop on who made the final decision on that?” O’Brien asked Cavanagh yesterday.

“With me,” Cavanagh replied.

“Really? Didn’t the buck stop with the person above you, Mr. Cahill,” O’Brien asked.

“No, it stopped with me,” Cavanagh said. Cavanagh then acknowledged that if Cahill disapproved of the ads they would not run, and said he had interpreted O’Brien’s question as asking whether he was the highest ranking person within the Lottery.

Cahill and Scott Campbell, Cahill’s former campaign treasurer and former chief of staff, are on trial for an alleged purchasing violation and two counts each of conspiracy. Cahill faces an additional charge of using his office for an unwarranted privilege. Both Cahill and Campbell have pleaded not guilty.

Attorney General Martha Coakley has contended that the Cahill campaign orchestrated the Lottery ads, which ran in late September and early October. The defense has argued that the Lottery ordered the ads to defend the state agency from “attack” ads run by the Republican Governors Association, which had criticized Cahill for alleged mismanagement of the Lottery and the state pension fund.

Though Cavanagh was called as a witness by the prosecution, the questioning from O’Brien yesterday sounded more adversarial than the questioning from the defendants’ attorneys. At one point, O’Brien asked about assertions Cavanagh had made about feeling pressure from the ad firm Hill Holliday to approve a relatively expensive ad campaign, but no pressure from Cahill or Campbell.

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