Two different – but not necessarily contradictory – takes in the local dailies about former Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill’s close call with the law over financial shenanigans in the Bay State’s 2010 gubernatorial race.
First up: Joan Vennochi’s column in Thursday’s Boston Globe:
With Cahill, a good law and a weak case
IT’S EASY when it’s cash stuffed between a state senator’s breasts or checks funneled through a law partner directly into the pockets of the speaker of the House.
It’s harder — as it should be — when a case for political corruption consists of a feel-good lottery ad campaign that cost taxpayers $1.5 million but never mentions the name of the state treasurer who ordered it up. Those are the underlying facts in the case that Attorney General Martha Coakley brought against former state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill.
While treasurer, Cahill spent public money to advance a personal political agenda — his failed campaign for governor. A new state law makes it a crime for politicians to do that — if prosecutors can show “fraudulent intent.” But in the case against Cahill, the evidence of fraudulent intent simply wasn’t strong enough.
That’s the legal angle. Peter Gelzinis had the human angle in his Friday Boston Herald column:
Tim Cahill tucked himself away at a back table a couple of mornings ago, inside his favorite breakfast haunt, McKay’s in Quincy. The word other customers kept tossing his way was, “Congratulations!”
Cahill thanked them all with the grateful smile of someone who’d just come out of a coma.
“I hesitate to think of these past two years as a near-death experience,” he said, referring to his disastrous gubernatorial bid, followed by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s corruption indictment, the threat of serious jail time, a trial that ended in a hung jury and, finally, a negotiated plea to something called “a perception of wrongdoing.”
The piece ends with this, which is bound to warm the hearts of Cahill supporters and make his detractors burning mad:
The experience, he said feels “as if I’ve been to my own wake. For two years, I couldn’t really talk to anyone and yet I’ve had all these friends come by to wish me well and tell me they were praying for me. Then, the weirdest, or perhaps, the nicest thing, is that I’m still here to be with them all.”
Instead of in the sneezer, where very few ever thought Cahill should wind up.