Independent Mass. gov. hopeful sues former aides, claims conspiracy against him to benefit GOP

By Glen Johnson, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mass. gov. hopeful alleges GOP dirty tricks

BOSTON — Massachusetts independent Timothy Cahill filed a lawsuit Thursday against former operatives who recently defected from his campaign, saying they conspired to get his running mate Paul Loscocco to quit the ticket, and were working with national Republicans to pass along confidential information that would undermine his candidacy for governor.

One of the aides, former campaign manager Adam Meldrum, issued a statement saying the lawsuit was a ruse to prevent him from gaining whistleblower status. He said he has been planning to present the attorney general with evidence of illegal coordination between the Massachusetts Lottery, which Cahill heads as state treasurer, and his political campaign.

In a statement accompanying his lawsuit, Cahill said the conspiracy against him was aimed at benefiting his Republican gubernatorial rival, Charles Baker, who has been running about even with the Democratic incumbent, Gov. Deval Patrick.

Patrick, one of 37 governors up for election nationally, is a trophy target, sharing Chicago roots, a Harvard pedigree and political consultants with President Barack Obama.

In one e-mail attached as an exhibit to the lawsuit, former Cahill strategist John Weaver wrote: “Paul will be given/offered a lifeline (for defecting). Up to him to take it or not.”

Weaver sent the e-mail on Sept. 18 to his business partner, Michigan political consultant John Yob, and Meldrum, whom the two recruited to serve as Cahill’s campaign manager. At the time, all three were under contract to the Cahill campaign. All later resigned, and Loscocco rocked Cahill on Oct. 1 by quitting and endorsing Baker.

Weaver said of Cahill’s complaint Thursday, “This lawsuit is as valid as the Cahill campaign. Adam’s statement speaks for itself.” Yob did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment.

The Republican Governors Association, which subsequently found a job for Meldrum in New Mexico, has worked vigorously throughout the year to narrow the race to a two-man campaign between Baker and Patrick.

“Now that this has been uncovered, it is incumbent upon all of us to question everything my Republican opponent has said during this race,” said Cahill, a former Democrat. “If this is the kind of underhanded, backroom tactics the Washington Republicans and Charlie Baker will use to get elected, we certainly can’t trust him to govern.”

Yet Meldrum said that was a smokescreen.

He said he was planning to expose illegal coordination between Cahill’s political and governmental staffs about a series of TV ads — now running — that boast how well the Lottery has performed.

“This lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to silence us from doing the right thing for the people of Massachusetts,” said Meldrum. “It is unfortunate that once again Tim Cahill is using the taxpayer dollars to further his political ambition.”

Meldrum said the e-mails in the lawsuit were obtained after he forwarded his Gmail account to his campaign account, a practice he forgot to stop after leaving the campaign.

Cahill’s attorneys immediately went to Norfolk Superior Court, where the lawsuit was filed, seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent any information-sharing. They’re also seeking compensatory damages. The lawsuit says the Weaver group had been paid about $215,000, with the potential to earn up to $425,000 — including a $100,000 bonus — if Cahill won.

Baker’s campaign is not named in the lawsuit, and the candidate said he had not seen it and was unaware of any conspiracy.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Baker told reporters during an appearance in Lowell. He said he did not authorize anyone in his campaign to make overtures to the former Cahill aides.

Baker’s campaign staff alleged Cahill’s court action was designed to stymie Meldrum’s whistleblowing efforts.

“We did not receive any written internal information regarding the Cahill campaign, period, but call on the treasurer to come clean about improper activities in his campaign rather than trying to cover them up through a lawsuit,” the statement said.

The existence of the lawsuit was first reported by The Boston Globe. Its filing came less than a week after Loscocco quit the campaign, saying Cahill could no longer win and was filling a spoiler’s role that would allow Patrick to gain a second term. Weaver and Meldrum resigned a week before Loscocco, making the same claim. Yob also resigned around the same time.

All three formerly worked on the presidential campaigns of Republican Sen. John McCain.

The departures followed vicious rounds of anti-Patrick and anti-Cahill television advertising by the RGA, which constantly belittled Cahill’s campaign.

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