On the face of it the federal charges against State Senator Dennis Bradley are damning:
— Leveraging his law firm as a campaign front for what was clearly a candidacy announcement for state office on March 15, 2018 at Dolphin’s Cove in the East End.
— Raising campaign money at the event in violation of state law.
— Directing campaign staff, covering his tracks, to falsify donation cards to reflect the fundraising did not take place March 15, 2018.
— Using $6,000 dollars of his own money, transferred from a personal law firm account, to pay for the Dolphin’s Cove event, in violation of state law.
— Not reporting, as required by state law, the personal expenditure on campaign finance reports.
— Falsifying campaign finance reports to receive $84,140 of public dollars in aid of his campaign.
— Trying to do the same for the general election, but was rejected by the State Elections Enforcement Commission when it discovered numerous irregularities.
The text exchange between Bradley and his then heady campaign consultant Bieu Tran, who is not implicated in the case, is telling.
“Wouldn’t that be illegal?” he asked, the intermingling of campaign event with law firm artifice?
“No it’s a BDK Law group party,” responded Bradley, a lawyer.
Problem for Bradley, it wasn’t. It was clearly a campaign event and then he prevailed upon underlings to cover his butt when the heat was turned up.
According to the indictment, OIB advanced “an article stating that Bradley planned to announce his State Senate candidacy.”
Bradley offered this statement for the March 15 announcement, “the day marked by history as Caesar’s pride and destruction will mark Bridgeport’s humbleness and rebirth. For God will take the stone that was discarded and use it as His cornerstone … Bringing the classics back to Bridgeport politics. It’s about time we raise the bar.”
It also raised a whole lotta trouble for 37-year-old Bradley who is now fighting for his political career, law license livelihood and his liberty with a young wife and six-month-old daughter to consider.
This indictment is likely the first time federal authorities have utilized Connecticut’s Citizens Election Program of publicly funded races to bring a case. Bradley is charged with multiple counts of wire fraud, a legal stranglehold for the simple usage of texts and emails in the course of alleged illegal conduct.
Bradley’s co-conspirator, Board of Education member and his campaign treasurer Jessica Martinez, is charged with multiple counts of wire fraud, providing false statements to FBI agents and lying before a grand jury. Fibbing to feds and a grand jury are prima facie charges nearly impossible to disprove.
In a twist of irony, on several occasions when Martinez had brushes with state law, it was attorney Bradley who represented her in court. Not anymore.
Martinez’s assigned public defender will examine the evidence against her and explain the facts of life: it will take an act of god to win this at trial, barring a legal loophole to dismiss it outright. Martinez can cut her loses by agreeing to cooperate and testify against Bradley (would she even make a strong witness given her charges?) or just pleading out and accepting her medicine.
Could she get off with no prison time? If she rolls the dice and goes to trial hard to see her winning and avoiding time.
Bradley, an elected official and attorney, faces a more daunting situation. His defense attorney James Glasser is well-schooled in the machinations of the federal system having served many years as a public corruption prosecutor. He will try to find a way to knock out this indictment.
The government has lined up several witnesses who will corroborate the charges of Bradley directing them to falsify information to rescue his ass.
It’s hard to envision the government allowing Bradley to plead out on a misdemeanor so he can retain his law license. With a federal conviction, the law license is sayonara. Bradley is something of an attention junkie whose first reaction will be to charm his way out of this mess with a dramatic appeal for public support, condemning big brother for attacking his noble intentions. Glasser will not take kindly to that. He will size up the government’s case and let Bradley know what he’s facing. Problem for Bradley, he’s in a pickle. If he pleads out to a felony, there goes his financial livelihood, but he can reduce his prison exposure with a plea.
Bradley may ultimately decide going to trial is the best option for his liberty and livelihood, irrespective of the potentially large down side. Bradley has admitted often he enjoys a tightrope walk without the benefit of a safety net. It’s his high. And he may take that option.
Glasser will try to keep him in check, especially at trial. If Bradley insists on testifying in his defense Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Francis will fillet him on cross examination. One thing about sitting in that chair, no spinning allowed. You must answer the question. Bradley looks good and sounds good in front of a tele camera, espousing Biblical quotes with the flourish of a minister. Keep the Bible under your pillow, Dennis.
So Bradley, who aspires to be mayor, now must decide what’s really most important: himself and his political career, or what’s best for his family?
It’s hard to blur both of them.