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.
“You can admit to pressure from Hill Holliday but not from Mr. Cahill or Mr. Campbell,” O’Brien said, receiving an affirmative from Cavanagh. Asking why Cavanagh complained to the deputy treasurer about the high cost of the ad firm’s proposals rather than the firm directly, O’Brien asked, “Isn’t that why you went to [Deputy Treasurer] Grace Lee, because you knew the pressure was coming from here, from Tim Cahill and not Hill Holliday?”
“Not totally, no,” Cavanagh answered. Cavanagh also acknowledged that there is nothing in writing showing that Cavanagh was considering so-called “permission” ads, which paint the Lottery in a favorable light, prior to July 28 — when the prosecution contends, the Cahill campaign became excited by the prospect that associating Cahill with the Lottery could boost his electoral prospects.
O’Brien asked about statements that Cavanagh made to the press and to officials in the AG’s office about his having no contact with the campaign, even though he had exchanged emails about the ads with Campbell over Labor Day weekend.
“I recognized Scott’s email was inappropriate and reported it up to Grace and thought that was over,” Cavanagh said. He said, “I overlooked Scott’s email.”
Campbell’s email was sent to Cavanagh’s personal email. Cavanagh said he still associated Campbell as the Treasury chief of staff.
“Because of your long-term association with Scott Campbell, you had put him in the Treasury pile,” Cahill’s attorney Brad Bailey said to Cavanagh, which Cavanagh agreed to. During his cross-examination, Bailey also made clear that Cavanagh had been called by the prosecution and that Bailey and Cavanagh had no contact beyond the cross-examination on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Isn’t it true that you were called here to testify for the commonwealth,” Bailey said, which Cavanagh affirmed.
Cavanagh is testifying with immunity from prosecution as long as he testifies truthfully, Cavanagh told the court on Tuesday. He is the chief financial officer of the City of Quincy.
During the direct examination of Wednesday’s second witness, Lottery attorney William Egan, O’Brien asked Egan about other statements Cavanagh had made: that Cavanagh had spoken to Egan about the legality of running the ads during Cahill’s gubernatorial run, and that Egan gave him “verbal” approval.
Egan testified that the first he heard of the idea for a $1.8 million “permission” ad campaign was on Aug. 16, 2010, when then-Lottery Marketing Director Diane Anderson approached him with concerns. Egan, who had been at the Lottery since that June after previous jobs at the Treasury and a previous roughly six-year run at the Lottery, said it appeared that Cavanagh had not heard of the ad campaign either.
“My impression is that it was his first time hearing about this,” said Egan, who described Cavanagh’s demeanor during a subsequent conversation about the ad campaign idea as “somewhat short and agitated.”
Egan said he also had concerns and said he had no memory of earlier conversations, prior to Aug. 16, with Cavanagh about the ad campaign.
“I don’t recall that,” Egan testified.