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Ford Accuses Martinez Of Driving Fraudulent AB Operation–State Investigates Claims

February 6th, 2013 · 18 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, News and Events

Lydia Martinez

City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez knows her peeps.

Nothing like a good political fight to warm things up. Investigators from the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission are probing absentee ballot fraud allegations involving City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez concerning residents at an apartment complex at 1491 Central Avenue during November’s general election. The complaint was brought by Ralph Ford Jr., East End political district leader who’s been on opposite sides of Martinez in a variety of city races including last year’s State Senate primary won by Andres Ayala over Ernie Newton and Ed Gomes. Martinez is no stranger to EEC probes. She’s been fined twice the past few years for election irregularities including assisting a voter with an absentee ballot in violation of state law.

Ford is an ally of Newton who’s facing criminal charges brought by state investigators alleging Newton falsified $500 in campaign donations last summer to qualify for roughly $80,000 in public campaign funds in his primary run.

A lot of tit for tat goes on in city politics. This one files a complaint against that one, and that one files a complaint in return. These kinds of complaints are not easy for state investigators to piece together. Ford’s complaint, however, is enough that last week EEC investigators William Smith and Gilberto Oyola blanketed the 1491 Central Avenue apartment complex with letters requesting cooperation from residents.

“It has been alleged that some of the applications and ballots were obtained fraudulently,” the letter states to one resident of the complex. “Since your name appears on the list of voters voting absentee from that address we need you to confirm whether the handwriting and signature appearing on those pages correspond to you.”

An EEC spokesperson confirms the letter was issued by state investigators and the probe continues.

Ford claims, in his complaint, that Kevin Johnson, a resident of 1491 Central Avenue “reported that two ladies came to his building at 1491 Central Avenue and told the residents to sign the absentee ballot applications. These applications were filed under false pretenses including Mr. Johnson’s. A few days later one of the ladies returned to the building and picked up Kevin Johnson’s ballot telling him “not to tell anybody.” Mr. Johnson as well as other residents were unaware of the elections laws regarding absentee ballots. When I informed him about the regulations he became quite upset and agreed to file a complaint. Apparently, other residents of this building were victimized as well. It was alleged by other residents that Lydia Martinez, a city councilperson (was) involved in soliciting and carrying these applications and ballots.”

Johnson is listed as a witness in Ford’s complaint.

When it comes to an absentee ballot operation, Martinez is the queen of the court in city politics. She’s extremely attentive to the task of prevailing upon unsophisticated electors to cast a vote by absentee ballot, even organizing constituent outings to casinos and Port Jefferson. She often claims she’s simply helping voters that cannot make it to the polls. For a seasoned political operative such as Martinez her absentee ballot constituents are money in the bank for city elections. Martinez also has some clout on the City Council serving as chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee that steers funding for the needy from the city’s Community Development Block Grant program. Her absentee ballot operation generally centers on her East Side council district, but in this case Ford is accusing her of interloping in his district.

Ford actively worked against the November ballot question that asked voters to approve mayoral appointment of school board members. Ford’s heavy African American constituency voted against the question at both his precincts, Harding and Dunbar. Ford, once a supporter of Bill Finch’s, had a falling-out with the mayor more than a year ago, stemming from patronage jobs. Ford has been a player in city politics for decades, leveraging his political action committee to support his candidates for office–dubiously, say his political critics. Ford is a behavioral health physician which sometimes comes in handy for city politics.


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18 Comments so far ↓

  • Grin Ripper

    Look who’s calling the kettle black! SEEC should take a look at the Ford Dealership PAC!

  • Bridgeport Now

    Speaking of city politics, tonight’s guest on the show is the state rep from 127th Assembly District to discuss the issue of city employees serving on the city council. Can state law change this? What about council member spouses or relatives of city employees? Is this fair to council members? Is now the right time? Does this impact development prospects?

    • Fluckarella

      Mr. Hennessy did a great job last night on his City Council Bill, too bad the hostess stepped all over his words. She never gave him a chance to finish his remarks.
      At one point a caller tried to ask Mr. Hennessy a question and the hostess (Ms. Blowhard) wasted several minutes giving the caller the incorrect answers.
      Ms. Blowhard needs to decide if she wants to use a one-sided argument on Rob’s show.

  • BlackRockGuy

    This has been going on for years. There are people registered at vacant lots and houses that are boarded up. And guess what they always vote because they are on the list? It is time for a canvass of the absentee voter list. And it is time to take legal action against this fraudulent pol once and for all.

  • AllforOne

    I remember a post some time ago about the FBI possibly speaking with certain council members to see if they were on the “take” when the ordinances were being put through. Specifically the one regarding strip clubs. Did anything ever come of that?

  • Black Rockin

    What gives with this city? The streets are dirty, litter everywhere, buildings abandoned, i.e. will the burned-out Nest building be torn down? Cars abandoned on sidewalks, what’s with that non-motorized food van on Fairfield Ave. parked in a two-hour parking spot for TWO WEEKS? What’s a permit when you know someone (wink, wink)? Absent ballot oversight. Is there corruption? If I know someone, can I get away without paying taxes? My voting alderman is voting to leave Bridgeport for Fairfield (has a kid, doesn’t like the schools). From I-95 Bridgeport looks like WW II Berlin after the war. Or have the powers that be laced our drinking water with LSD, so things are not as the appear.
    I just don’t get it, give me one of those funny ballots Martinez, and by duh way what does Bridgeport pay you for your little scam?

  • Baffled in Bridgeport

    Listen, this is great news. A drop in the bucket but still great news. First we have Hennessy’s bill and now a complaint against Martinez. Everyone who cares about Bridgeport ought to be rising up to support Hennessy. We need non-conflicted council members who will vote in the best interests of their constituents and hold the Mayor accountable for his performance (or lack thereof) without fear of retribution. The absentee ballot fraud in this city is beyond the pale. Calling Martinez the Queen of Absentee Ballots and wink, winking at her operations minimizes just how criminal and destructive her actions are. Ralph Ford may not have clean hands but I sure hope he wins this one and I hope the SEEC has the teeth to see Martinez is prosecuted.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Bill HB-5724 has been voted to go to public hearing–it is imperative that
      1. Citizens of Bridgeport show up at the hearing in Hartford and speak on the record why we want this bill passed
      2. We make everyone we know outside of Bridgeport know about this and write/email their legislatures to support this bill.
      3. Contact your local rep and let them know you support this bill and expect to see them as co-sponsors of the bill.
      Auden Grogins voted yes to have a public hearing on this bill–there is power in numbers (us) and hope for this to make a difference in Bridgeport.

  • Black Rockin

    Baffled, you are so right. The vote is basic to our culture, people are dying right now for that right and some yo-yo like Martinez apparently overlooks this death and blood fact as she continues to disgrace Bridgeport, Connecticut, the United States and those who are literally dying to protect and grant us this right to honestly vote. (Honestly is my operant emotion here.)
    Right On, Hennessy.

  • BlackRockGuy

    I would love to know why this story is being ignored by the Post.

  • barry soitera

    Dead people vote Democrat!

  • The Phantom

    This is the same city that thinks it can attract new business by commissioning graffiti of P.T. Barnum on abandoned buildings downtown.

    • flubadub

      Phantom, I was stunned when I saw the garish “art” painted on those walls downtown. To each their own I guess, but it reminded me of the graffiti driving to JFK airport in the ’80s.

  • yahooy

    Will any of the people who filed ABs be prosecuted?

  • yahooy

    Looks like la diabla is going to take a hit. She’ll probably lose her position. Not to worry. The Calamarians will see to it she gets hired as the Voter Registration Director at Mountain Grove.

  • Mojo

    *** It’s a little bit of “tit for tat” before upcoming City Council and BOE elections so “Do as they say and not as we really do,” no? *** HERE WE GO! ***

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Tit-for-tat, indeed.

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