Unauthorized release of police video surveillance shared on social media by the campaign of John Gomes, who lost Tuesday’s Democratic primary to Mayor Joe Ganim by 251 votes, shows a Democratic political operative stuffing into a drop box absentee ballots triggering multiple questions about the outcome of the vote as well as graphic breach of public safety security by someone within the police department leaking the footage to benefit Gomes.
It now also punctuates new information that could compel Gomes to challenge the results in court, needing 251 reasons, in a judge’s mind, to declare a new primary.
Also, appropriate channels exist if a city employee monitoring law enforcement video thinks a crime has occurred. Turning it over to a campaign camp asks for trouble.
This one is messy on several levels and will take some time to sort out. It will for sure trigger investigations about the veracity of the vote count but also as well illegal dissemination of information monitored by the Fusion Division, a small unit within the Margaret Morton Government Center examining a host of potential law enforcement issues aided by video surveillance that cannot be disseminated without authorization for fear of compromising investigations.
The drop box videos, for sure, look damning, but so too and perhaps more significantly the breach of police security that violated protocol. Who leaked this information to Gomes? And how often has this happened?
Police Chief Roderick Porter has an active investigation underway into the breach of security. You don’t want your law enforcement staff playing politics on city time. This will no doubt lead to terminations of the city employees involved and possible criminal charges.
PD news release:
The Bridgeport Police Department are actively investigating information regarding possible misconduct based upon a video that has surfaced on social media on Friday September 15, 2023. The Bridgeport Police Department immediately initiated an investigation to determine if any criminal wrongdoing has occurred. In addition, an internal investigation is being conducted to determine if any possible breach to our security video management system has occurred. Chief Porter states “we take these actions seriously and we will pursue possible criminal prosecution and/or administrative discipline as it relates to any such security violations”. At this time the Bridgeport Police have taken measures to ensure the heightened security of our video management systems.
Chief Porter also states that “integrity of our security systems is of the utmost importance and priority for public safety and public trust, and those responsible if found to have violated our trust will be held to account for their actions”. Currently, this continues to be an ongoing investigation.
Now, let’s get to the politics of the videos.
Video surveillance externally and internally at the Morton Center, distributed and produced by the Gomes campaign with icon narratives, capture city employee Wanda Geter, a supporter of Mayor Joe Ganim, on multiple occasions stuffing into what appear to be absentee ballots into a publicly designated container.
The internal surveillance footage also features Geter handing off ballots to another city employee to do the same.
State law is clear about the handling of absentee ballots, generally limiting immediate family and health care providers.
If this was one video capturing a hand in the box once, that could be explained away as on behalf of family: multiple times, not so.
The Gomes campaign says it will file a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission that oversees the purity of the vote.
Two weeks ago Gomes supporter, City Councilwoman Maria Pereira, was caught on video rummaging through the mail in the vacant home of an 81-year-old woman in search of her absentee ballot.
Pereira says she did nothing wrong.
Geter was unavailable for comment for this story.
Gomes has scheduled a news conference for Monday on this matter.
This story infuses multi-dimensions that will be on the table throughout this municipal cycle and could take a number of twists and turns.
(Story is developing)