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Analysis

Cahill co-defendant Campbell lived up to Quincy code

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Scott Campbell gets a hug from Tina Cahill, wife of co-defendant and former state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, after Campbell’s acquittal today.

In Quincy, loyalty is more prized than a cup of Marylou’s coffee.

South Boston has the reputation as the place where secrets go to die and grudges never do, but its South Shore neighbor is no poseur on either count.

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That code explains how Scott Campbell got in the trouble he did, the way he addressed it when he faced the very real prospect of jail time, and why the 41-year-old was left virtually speechless when a jury announced his acquittal today.

He had been charged with conspiring with his boss, former state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, to spend $1.8 million in Massachusetts Lottery funds on TV commercials whose true goal was to boost Cahill’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

The 12-member jury acquitted him but went back to see if it could break a deadlock over Cahill’s fate.

“I’m very happy. I’m very relieved. I’m ready to move on. Thank-you to the jury,” Campbell said barely audibly outside the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

He then retreated to an elevator with his wife and headed home to his two daughters. Campbell still faces charges in the state’s Probation Department investigation that also are linked to Cahill, but he has cleared the first of his two legal hurdles with his local credibility intact.

Campbell is a Quincy kid and former UMass Boston student with a reverence for God and a love for politics. In Tim Cahill, there was a guy who went from city councilor to county treasurer to the same post for the state.

When you consider someone from your hometown is one of but six constitutional officers in your homestate, there are few higher people to aspire to serve if you are a political operative.

Campbell is but that.

As do many people with his bent, Campbell moved freely between the political and governmental worlds, switching from the state to campaign payrolls as needed.

In the former world, he became chief of staff, a fancy title for the person charged with making the Treasury trains run on time.

In the latter world, Campbell joined communications chief Amy Birmingham, First Deputy Treasury Grace Lee, and former aide Neil Morrison as the kitchen cabinet when Cahill decided in 2010 against seeking a third term and instead mounted a now-quixotic campaign for governor as an independent.

It was during that campaign that Cahill broke with his own respect for homegrown talent by hiring consultant John Weaver - famed for cultivating Senator John McCain’s maverick, independent image during the 2000 presidential election - as an outside political adviser.

Weaver brought along business partner John Yob, and they recommended protege Adam Meldrum to serve as campaign manager.

Along the way, though, the group had a falling out, bursting into public view in spectacular fashion in September 2010 when Weaver and Yob quit because they felt Cahill could no longer win. Cahill severed ties with Meldrum a day later because he felt he could no longer trust the Michigander.

In his place he put Campbell, who had been working for the campaign in an advisory capacity since May - which would later become relevant in the corruption trial.

“Scott’s been really the presence of this campaign, the leader of this campaign. He’s got experience in winning two statewide elections for me,” Cahill told reporters at his Quincy campaign headquarters as he vowed to carry on.

Yet less than a week later, Cahill’s own running mate, Paul Loscocco, defected and endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker Jr. Cahill could barely contain his anger.

“As for not having a lieutenant governor, I don’t plan to die. And we can save money on that useless job,” Cahill said after reporters again trekked to Quincy for an emotional news conference.

Less than a week after that, a political campaign descended into a legal morass, with Cahill filing suit against Weaver, Yob, and Meldrum, and Meldrum announcing a counter-claim against Cahill.

The treasurer said the three outsiders had conspired with the Republican Party to boost Baker’s campaign. Meldrum said Cahill was suing him because he was trying to quash evidence the former campaign manager had of the illegal expenditure of lottery funds on veiled campaign ads.

The dispute went to court in the form of the trial that just ended for Campbell.

Testimony showed that Cahill and Campbell had communicated with advertising executives about lottery ads as the treasurer’s political campaign was hitting the skids in June 2010.

Cahill took the stand to defend himself, saying the ads were aimed at boosting the lottery after the Republican Governors Association attacked it while criticizing the treasurer’s stewardship of the agency.

Campbell notably did not take the stand. Moreover, he did not utter a public word during the entire trial. He was indicted, arraigned, and entered and left court in silence.

He left the talking up to Cahill, his once boss and political mentor, even as his own freedom was at risk - and even as Cahill and the attorneys in the case cast Campbell as a patsy and the victim of the ex-treasurer’s abuse.

During the trial’s five weeks, Campbell sat at the far-right side of the witness table, while Cahill sat at the far-left - closest to the jury. They never interacted before the members.

In the end, Campbell’s approach paid off. The jury is still out on Cahill but it has rendered its verdict on Campbell.

He is able to go home to his wife, who has served as a Quincy school teacher, his own big family on Hough’s Neck, and carry his head high knowing he lived up to the code of Quincy.

Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
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