Independent candidate for governor Tim Cahill and Republican candidate Charles Baker, in addition to backing a 5 percent sales tax rate, favor reducing the income tax rate to 5 percent, a rate cut that voters statewide approved in 2000, by a 56-38 margin, but which the Legislature stopped implementing in 2002. The ballot law called for a 5 percent rate by 2003. The rate now sits at 5.3 percent.Isn't that something? A voter initiative passed in 2000 by nearly twenty points - by any measure a landslide - and two years later the Legislature... "stopped implementing.'' And lest anyone suggest the voters were helpless victims here, it should be noted well that three election cycles have come and gone in the intervening period, each re-installing the vast majority of the self-same legislative offenders to term after unopposed term.
I'd be remiss if I skipped the opportunity to point out that while Treasurer 'Zuul' Cahill does in fact currently support cutting the income tax to the voter-mandated five percent, he hummed a very different (opposite) tune back in February when Charlie Baker initially announced his support of the roll-back, telling the State House News "I don't think it's necessary at this point," and declaring that an income tax cut would not "put people back to work." If it's consistency you're looking for, Cahill also opposed a roll-back in the income tax in 2006, when he endorsed then-candidate Deval Patrick for the governorship and pronounced Patrick's own opposition to an income tax cut, "courageous." But of course back then Cahill wasn't running for Governor as an "independent."
Speaking of Treasurer Tim, you may have noticed that he is running a television ad. Shortly into that ad comes a coffee-spurting-from-the-nose laugh line as the narrator intones, "Tim Cahill runs the lottery with no scandals and record returns."
"[W]ith no scandals." Even a viewer with no knowledge whatsoever about Massachusetts politics would flag that clause as oddly defensive and jarring in a Google-inducing way. And in an age of hand-held access to the sum total of human knowledge, Cahill's decision to include the easily-disproved claim must be deemed a particularly puzzling example of leading with one's chin. "No scandals"... unless one's definition of "scandal" includes this, from the Boston Globe on August 14, 2008:
The Massachusetts State Lottery's largest vendor paid in excess of $132,000 in consulting fees to one of state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill's closest friends and political confidants, at the same time Cahill steered tens of millions of dollars in contracts to the national firm, according to records and officials.Or this, from the Boston Globe on January 19, 2009:
Cahill first decided in August 2004 to renew a $21 million contract with Georgia-based Scientific Games, which had been sharply criticized for the quality of the scratch tickets it produced, even after Cahill's top aides recommended that he spread the work around more among multiple vendors, say people with direct knowledge of the process. Cahill, in his role as state treasurer, oversees the Massachusetts Lottery Commission.
Cahill has since given Scientific Games three one-year extensions worth over $30 million in additional state payments.
Thomas F. Kelly, a political confidant and close friend of State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, stood to make as much as $2.4 million in fees from a deal he tried to broker for a gaming company with the state lottery, which is under Cahill's control, according to a copy of his contract.The State Ethics Commission thought that one was worth a look (Boston Globe, March 24, 2009):
State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill is facing a state ethics inquiry for awarding a $21 million state lottery contract to a company that was secretly paying Cahill's close friend and fund-raiser, Thomas F. Kelly, tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees, according to multiple people who have been briefed on the investigation.Investigators from the state Ethics Commission interviewed Cahill this month about his decision in 2004 to award the contract to Scientific Games to make scratch tickets, despite a recommendation from his own staff that Scientific Games receive less state work, said two of the people who have been briefed. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because Ethics Commission investigations are confidential.The list goes on (no really, it does), but you get the point. One would have to deploy a particularly forgiving definition of the word "scandal" to conclude that Cahill's claim to have run the lottery "with no scandals" is anything other than an, er, misstatement of the facts. A "depends on the meaning of the word is" type situation, with "scandal" subbing for "is."
And even if one makes the generous assumption that the Cahill ad's scandal assertion is in fact true, as pertaining specifically to the lottery, so what? The Massachusetts Lottery is but one of several state agencies that the Treasurer oversees. If Terry Francona were to boast that he'd "managed the outfield without any errors," would you not immediately ask, "okay, but what happened on the rest of the field?"
In Cahill's case, enough has happened for the Boston Globe's editors to conclude that his stewardship of the Treasury and the various offices it oversees, coupled with his highly questionable campaign fund-raising practices, "raises [the] specter of pay-to-play government." I previously ran through Cahill's scandals here, and won't rehearse that now. Give that link a click, though, if you remain unconvinced.
The point is, "without any scandals" does not describe Tim Cahill's stewardship of the lottery, nor of the rest of his portfolio. More, inclusion of the claim in a television ad running statewide invites scrutiny of the claim, which can only result in the recycling of previous negative news coverage. Truly a head-scratching decision.
Of course, I gave up on trying to understand the logic of the Cahill campaign when they chose black as their campaign color. Every five year old instinctively knows that the guy dressed in black is the bad guy.
UPDATE: Temporarily restoring my faith in the fourth estate, the Globe's Frank Phillips this morning rakes Cahill over the coals for his disingenuous ad:
The factsCahill's defense, apparently, is that the state ethics commission (which has very limited investigative authority and resources) decided in April that "this matter does not warrant further actions at this time." This, says Cahill, "means I didn't do anything wrong."
Cahill, in his management of the lottery, has faced serious allegations that he engaged in a so-called pay-to-play scheme.
His decision in 2004 to extend the $21 million contract of Scientific Games International to provide 80 percent of the lottery’s scratch tickets drew criticism that the selection was an insider deal.
One of his closest friends and political associates, Thomas F. Kelly, was secretly on the Scientific Games payroll, drawing in excess of $132,000 in consulting fees over four years, to look after the giant gaming firm’s interest at the lottery. In that time, the lottery gave Scientific Games three one-year extensions worth more than $30 million.
With the 2004 contract decision pending, Kelly, one of Cahill’s chief fund-raisers, was also pushing the company’s executives to donate to the treasurer’s political committee. Top aides in Cahill’s office at the time were urging that Scientific Games’s share of the scratch ticket work be reduced. Cahill rejected the advice.
Cahill has denied that he knew that Kelly, a longtime friend and Quincy neighbor, was on the Scientific Games payroll or that he was seeking campaign donations from the company’s executives.
Three months after Cahill’s decision to extend the contract, the company sponsored a fund-raiser for Cahill in New York that generated nearly $20,000 in donations.
So that clears it up. When he says "with no scandals," what Cahill really means is "with no convictions." That's confidence-inspiring.