The Real Lottery Winner

1219239915A small scandal broke out last week when the Globe reported that Scientific Games, the state’s largest vendor of instant lottery games, has kicked over $132,000 in consulting fees to a friend of Treasurer Tim Cahill (who also just happens to be a Cahill fundraiser). Considering that overseeing the lottery is one of Cahill’s chief duties as treasurer, this looks bad. But it shouldn’t be surprising—the truth is that lottery vendors have been playing politics in Massachusetts for a long time now.

According to the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s online database, since he took office, Cahill has received over $26,000 in political donations from employees of Scientific Games and the Providence-based GTECH Corporation—the two lotto firms with the largest presence in Massachusetts—and their associated lobbyists. The sum’s even more impressive when you consider there’s a $500 personal max donation limit.

Interestingly, employees of Scientific Games, which as the Globe reported, receives 80 percent of the state’s scratch ticket business, have given Cahill significantly more cash than their rivals at GTECH. Sci Games employees, and their lobbyist, Michael McCormack, total $18,600 in donations to Cahill. GTECH employees and their lobbyist, Robert Finneran, total $7,550.

Let’s give Cahill the absolute benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s operated completely on the level. That doesn’t change the simple, rotten fact that the guy in charge of the lottery is allowed to take political donations from lottery vendors. We don’t let doctors get free meals from pharma companies, after all.

One other note of interest is that Donald Sweitzer—a senior VP at GTECH who has donated $500 to Cahill each of the last three years—is a big player in the national Democratic Party. He served as the Democratic National Committee’s political director back in the 90’s and spreads a good deal of money around to candidates across the country. Not in Massachusetts, though. With the exception of the $200 he dished to Boston City Councilor Stephen Murphy six years ago, Cahill is the only local pol he donates to.