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Courtroom Drama In Gomes Versus Bradley State Senate Battle

July 1st, 2016 · 17 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, News and Events, State Politics

Judge Barbara Bellis

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis. CT Post file photo.

A clearly agitated Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis placed her hand across her forehead. Later, she even ran her hands across her face in exasperation. She reminded veteran political operative Ralph Ford that he was under oath and must testify truthfully. Just a few minutes into his testimony Ford had delivered inconsistent statements about what he knew and didn’t regarding his role as chair of the May 23rd endorsement for State Senate in which the candidate he supported Dennis Bradley won the endorsement and the incumbent Ed Gomes who had sufficient support to qualify for the ballot did not as a result of a paperwork glitch because Ford eventually admitted he did not know the rules.

Ford, a seasoned politician who knows how to turn a phrase, testified Thursday afternoon that as the chair of the Democratic nominating convention for State Senate that he had not read up on the party rules that a candidate who receives 15 percent of the support qualifying for the ballot must fill out a certification form signed by either the chair or the secretary of the convention.

Gomes’ candidacy was invalidated by the Office of the Connecticut Secretary of the State because he had not submitted a consent form within two weeks of the endorsement session that took place at Testo’s Restaurant. Gomes’ lawyers contend “On the night of the convention it was not reasonably possible for Gomes to have obtained the executed Certificate of Eligibility Form.” Gomes is asking Bellis to place his name on the ballot for the August 9 Democratic primary.

Ford was called to the stand by Christopher Mattei, a lawyer with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, who spent years prosecuting public corruption cases, including former Governor John Rowland, as Chief of the Financial Fraud & Public Corruption unit with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut. Gomes is also represented by Bill Bloss from the Koskoff firm.

Mattei questioned Ford aggressively about what he knew and when he knew it. Ford had not delivered all the documents he was required in response to a court-ordered subpoena.

The endorsement for Connecticut’s 23rd State Senate District took place May 23rd at Testo’s Restaurant. In a close contest Bradley won the endorsement over Gomes with Bradley supporter Ford chairing the convention. Gomes received plenty of delegate support to qualify for an August primary. According to the state election calendar, see here, the Gomes campaign had two weeks to submit the “15% candidate certificates filed by 14th day after close of convention.” That means paperwork on behalf of Gomes should have been submitted by 4 p.m. June 6.

A central question Bellis will address in this case, who has the responsibility to file the paperwork? The candidate? Convention officials?

The Democratic State Central Committee sets the calendar and chooses temporary convention chairs for endorsements in multi-town districts. Former State Senator Ernie Newton, a Gomes supporter, was named temporary chair by virtue of his standing as a member of the Democratic State Central Committee. Ford was then named convention chair by delegates irrespective of his support for Bradley.

Under questioning by Mattei, Ford said he understood that an endorsed candidate had to fill out a consent form but was unaware that a candidate who had received 15 percent of the support to qualify for the ballot also had to fill out a form. Ford admitted he had provided the paperwork to Bradley.

Mattei hammered home the point, after establishing that Ford was a Bradley supporter, that he had provided the paperwork to Bradley but not to Gomes.

Former Bridgeport Deputy City Attorney Art Laske is representing the Bradley campaign.

At one point Bellis suggested to Ford that he secure his own lawyer.

Bellis continued the case for further testimony on Tuesday.

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Phil Smith

    I wonder if Dennis Bradley understands how much damage this fiasco could do to his reputation and future prospects.

  • Jimfox

    Should a judge be able to overrule a decision by voters? Should a technicality?

    • Jimfox

      Get ‘em, Babs!

      • Lisa Parziale

        This entire scenario was started by Mario Testa and blessed by G2. They just may end of up with egg on their faces. I was there when Mario rigged the BOE Chair in favor of Bradley, and Ganim was there also going along with the deal. Right out of the gate they’re keeping the politics dirty and screwing the taxpayers.

        • Jimfox

          Lisa, was MiniMario there too? (Danny Roach)

          • Lisa Parziale

            He sure was Jim, you had to see the entourage walking into the Board meeting. First Ganim, followed by Testa, Danny Roach, John Ricci, Ed Adams, Tom Gaudet, Angel DePara, as assortment of uniformed police, just too many for me to remember. It looked like a mini parade.
            Since Ganim had to swear in the BOA chair, no one else had a reason to be there. Dotti Guman and I went just to watch the show. The audience and other interested people were upset with the rigging of the Chair by Testa and Danny’s reply was “Blame it on me.” I can’t believe a man I’ve known and trusted since our first term on the Council has finally found his price. This administration will be his swan song.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      What voters? This fiasco was all Ford’s doing and the answer to your question is yes.

  • Maria Pereira

    I was in the courtroom from the beginning until it ended at 5:00.

    Ernie Newton was placed on the stand first. Time and time again he provided inconsistent statements. Ed’s attorney repeatedly caught Ernie referencing emails he had not supplied in direct violation of the subpoena. At one point Ernie was trying to backtrack on a statement he made regarding an email he sent Dr. Ford which had all the attached documents relevant to Ed’s ballot access. He stated he was having a problem receiving and sending attachments so he had his daughter send it to Dr. Ford. It made absolutely no sense. If you couldn’t successfully send the attachments to Dr. Ford; then how could you successfully send the attachments to your daughter to forward them to Dr. Ford?

    The attorney tripped up Ernie repeatedly and he became confused. and made inconsistent statement after inconsistent statement. Dr. Ford and Tom Coble kept looking at each other as if they were both exasperated and nervous.

    Judge Bellis had a smirk on her face throughout the day.

    Dr. Ford took the stand and made conflicting statements right out of the gate. Within five minutes Judge Bellis suggested he may need an attorney for committing perjury.

    Ed’s attorney caught him referencing six different emails he did not provide as required by the subpoena.

    A young lady passed Ernie and Ralph outside the courthouse and she heard them saying how they “have to get our stories straight.”

    That’s exactly what they are, stories.

    Huddled together were Dr. Ford, Tom Coble, Ruben Felipe, Ernie Newton, and Dennis Bradley. You know what they say; birds of a feather flock together.

    Judge Bellis’ face was priceless the entire day.

  • Jimfox

    If you control the building of our schools, that’s all Mario and the DTC care about. So who’s sitting on the BBOE school building committee? Any city employees?

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Yes, I believe Jim Holloway is.

      • Jimfox

        Thanks, Andy.

      • John Marshall Lee

        James Holloway has acted as Chairman for years. He enjoys “running things” as in applying rules for the School Building Committee as if it were operating with the City Council rulebook where the Chair can deny the right to speak to citizens who request an opportunity to make a comment or ask a question. He has done so in the past. Currently the body also has Scott Burns and Aidee Nieves assigned to it. In the recent past Jack Banta and Lydia Martinez have been assigned to it.

        But has Councilman Holloway bothered to report to the Council as a body or individual members on the ‘doings’ of a body that has seen $700 Million of public (State and local bonding) spent on new buildings and renovations of older sites in the past eight years? Anybody interested? Do you think City employee, Council representative, and School Building Chair Holloway cares about your interests? What are your thoughts? Another dose of Ganim patience? Time will tell.

  • Donald Day

    C’mon Andy, Ralph did exactly what Mario and Joe told him to do with no questions asked. All Ralph got was a pat on head, two attaboys and a promise for something later.

  • carolanne curry

    Watch Judge Bellis have the last word.

  • Phil Smith

    This case is an embarrassment to the entire city.

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