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Judge Orders State To Place Gomes’ Name On Primary Ballot, Ford: I Did Not Mislead Court

July 10th, 2016 · 84 Comments · City Politics, News and Events, State Politics

Ed Gomes

Gomes on primary ballot.

Declaring that East End District Leader Ralph Ford, a supporter of Democratic-endorsed Dennis Bradley, “perpetuated a fraud on the court,” Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis on Friday ordered state elections officials to place Ed Gomes’ name on the August 9 primary ballot ruling that “roadblocks” were set against the incumbent state senator when his 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 contended “On the night of the convention it was not reasonably possible for Gomes to have obtained the executed Certificate of Eligibility Form.”

The endorsement for Connecticut’s 23rd State Senate District took place May 23rd at Testo’s Restaurant. In a close contest Bradley, chair of the Board of Education, 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.

While Bellis said Gomes had not taken the steps to file the necessary paperwork on time, she ruled that “roadblocks” were set up against Gomes, particularly by Ford who she said failed in his duty to provide the consent form to Gomes while issuing the paperwork to Bradley, the candidate he supports. After the state invalidated Gomes’ candidacy, Ford said it was Gomes’ obligation to file the paperwork, something he reasserted Friday afternoon upon learning Bellis’ decision. He said he did not lie under oath and refuted Bellis’ claim that he misled the court.

“Judge Bellis got it wrong,” said Ford, a therapist by profession with a private clinical practice. “The statute says each candidate is responsible for getting their certification papers in to the state. Even though I was chairman of the convention I was never given a copy of the certification paper by anyone. It was never in my possession. Ed Gomes never asked me for that form. How could I have committed a fraud if Ed Gomes, a four-term state senator, didn’t do anything about his form? How does that make me responsible for his form so he can be certified for the ballot? He did absolutely nothing.”

Ralph Ford

Ralph Ford

Bellis had harsh words for the local political establishment in general, including former State Senator Ernie Newton who testified in the case, but she reserved her harshest comments for Ford, a seasoned political operative whose testimony under oath she said “intentionally misled” the court. Bellis did not blame Bradley for the filing gaffe. Bradley’s lawyer Art Laske said “This is a sad example of allowing a candidate who has an obligation to know the law but doesn’t take any steps to follow it to be held accountable for his actions.”

Bellis’ order gives Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill until Wednesday to approve Gomes’ certification form. If Merrill does not acquiesce, the judge’s order to place Gomes on the ballot takes effect on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Merrill says her office will not appeal the decision. “Deadlines are important and we intend to enforce them in the future,” Merrill said in a statement. “However, the facts of this case are extraordinary. I believe the voters have been served by the result of this decision.”

Gomes was in the courtroom for Bellis’ decision issued from the bench. Afterwards he said, “I am happy with the decision. I’m disappointed we had to go through this process. The campaign continues.”

Last week, a clearly agitated Bellis ran her hands across her face in exasperation during Ford’s testimony. She told Ford he was under oath and must testify truthfully. She even advised him to seek legal counsel. 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, Bradley, won the endorsement and the incumbent Gomes who had sufficient support to qualify for the ballot did not as a result of a paperwork glitch because Ford eventually claimed he did not know the rules.

Bellis ruled, however, the paperwork was forwarded to Ford by state party officials and he had a duty to present it to Gomes.

Dennis Bradley

Dennis Bradley

Ford had testified as the chair of the Democratic nominating convention for State Senate, 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.

Ford was called to the stand by former federal prosecutor Christopher Mattei, a lawyer with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder representing Gomes, who spent years prosecuting public corruption cases, including a federal campaign finance case against former Governor John Rowland.

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 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 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.

Newton had forwarded the necessary paperwork to Ford in an email but the judge ruled that Ford showed “willful misconduct” in not presenting the paperwork to Gomes. Ford says the email did not include a paperwork attachment.

Mattei issued this statement: “The court found that Ralph Ford and Ernest Newton engaged in a coordinated effort to violate the rules of the Connecticut Democratic Party and state law in order to keep Sen. Gomes off the ballot and to deprive Bridgeport Democrats of any choice in the upcoming primary. We weren’t going to stand for that and neither was the Court.”


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84 Comments so far ↓

  • Ron Mackey

    Congratulations Ed, now on to victory.

  • Frank Gyure


  • Jimfox

    Congratulations, Ed!!!

  • barney

    Congrats, Ed! Best of luck to you.

  • Maria Pereira

    Let’s get this done! Let’s all show disgusting Ralph Ford and his sidekick Ernie Newton when you behave unethically, dishonestly, and play dirty you don’t get to win.

    I don’t believe for one minute Dennis Bradley was not deeply involved in this plot. Not for one minute.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Glad you won, Ed. Hey Mario, put this AH Ford and Ernie the garbage man on the shelf and keep them out of Bridgeport politics. They Suck.

  • Frank Underwood

    Alas! Bradley is one step closer from not f***ing up our City, again.

    • Lisa Parziale

      While Ford finally outsmarted himself and was publicly outed, the other culprit Mario Testa dodged another bullet. If Ed, Marilyn, Maria and Charlie win, Mario definitely has one foot on a banana peel and the second will go down in two years. Now we can turn in the 150 AB applications for Ed. And that’s just a start. Maria Pereira, Karma is a bitch, he got it for trying to get you and now Ed. Let’s hope Ed kicks ass the way you did!

  • Donald Day

    Congratulations Ed, not only winning this lawsuit but exposing the deleterious conduct of Ralph Ford and the looking of the other way by Ernie Newton when this took place. Lisa, you are absolutely correct in your observation the real culprit is none other than Mario.

  • Michael Smith

    Best of luck in the primary, Ed. While I have no dog in this fight, I do support giving voters choices and am 100% against dirty tricks to deprive people of their right to represent their neighbors.

    May the best candidate win.

  • Maria Pereira

    Let’s not forget Ralph Ford is Stallworth’s number-one supporter and attends Stallworth’s church.

    I am also hearing Ralph Ford’s East End PAC, which is officially his wife’s, is sending out an attack mailer against me. It is illegal to “coordinate” an independent expenditure with a candidate.

    As a loyal parishioner and supporter, will they attempt to claim there was no “coordination?”

    Let’s wait and see.

    • Brenda Jernigan

      Yes, Ralph Ford is a member of EEBC, but that has NOTHING to do with his action in politics. And he is an outstanding member, so please leave East End Baptist Church and my Pastor Stallworth out of this, please?

      Thank you!

      • Lisa Parziale

        Agreed, Brenda!

      • Maria Pereira

        Brenda, the same Dr. Ford who got you a city job in the last few months.

        Ralph is heavily involved in Stallworth’s campaign, so let’s not pretend otherwise.

        I never mentioned any church by name, that would be you.

        Those we associate with are a reflection of ourselves, therefore Stallworth’s close association with Ralph Ford is very telling.

  • Bob Walsh

    Ed Laske is a city attorney and was representing Bradley? What’s up with that?
    I sure hope the taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for Bradley’s personal legal representation!

  • Jeff Kohut

    Congratulations, Ed! Another Gomes landmark case to put in the political bank and history books! (You should be getting a congratulatory message from Anthony Musto any second now!)

  • Frank Gyure

    I’m not familiar with the Baker/Coviello race. Who’s who in this race? My impression is Coviello is the perpetual candidate for whatever office is open. What’s the scoop on Andre Baker?

    • Lisa Parziale

      Frank, to be honest, Andre was one of the good guys until Mario put his claws into him, and Andre lost his way. I think Charlie will be more engaged in constituent concerns than Andre has been. Charlie has decades of experience and is empathetic, maybe this will be his time.

      • Frank Gyure

        Lisa Parziale, Thank You.

      • Jimfox

        Rumor has it Baker wanted to run as a Republican like his best bud (lamented) Dave Hennessey (ex-BOE boss) but Mario talked him back, “next time kid I’ll run ya for Senate, that’s if Dirty Denny tanks.”

        • Jimfox

          So let’s all push hard for Coviello and keep Baker in Norwalk!

        • Lisa Parziale

          I believe he did say that, Jim. It’s what he does to create dissension, then he goes back under his rock. If he gets lucky, he pounds that little chest and the beat goes on. He gives the illusion of having juice when in fact that left a long, long time ago.

      • Brenda Jernigan

        Don’t agree. One thing I know, Andre Baker is the only one when on council who would stand up to Finch ‘blow for blow’ did we forget, Lisa? :) and Andre has never been a follower of Mario NEVER he has a mind of his own.

        I must speak on his behalf as a personal friend and constituent of his. No hard feelings Lisa, it’s not our fight!!!

        • Lisa Parziale

          You’re right, Brenda. I consider Andre my friend and love his little guy Chase. He was excellent on the City Council, even when he was the last good one sitting. I supported him for the BOA, worked hard for him. I just get the feeling something’s missing in him. Maybe I should reach out and talk with him. He knows what I think of him, it would just help me to understand the mixed messages.

          • Maria Pereira

            Lisa, you’re wrong. Andre Baker just voted NO on occasion. I never once saw him take on Mayor Finch or his administration. Not once.

            The facts are Andre Baker cut a deal with Mayor Finch that he would betray all those who worked to get him elected to the BOE in exchange for Finch backing him for state rep. He sold all of us down the river, but more importantly he cut his deal on the backs of over 21,000 black and brown children in which almost 40% live in poverty.

  • Dave Walker

    Congratulations, Senator Gomes!

  • Jimfox

    I heard Baker lives in Norwalk and works in Bridgeport, someone should check his drivers license. Let’s get rid of these Finchettes once and for all.

    • Ron Mackey

      Baker has a business in Bridgeport and Norwalk.

    • Brenda Jernigan

      Not true, he lives on Baldwin Street in Bridgeport, next door to property he owns, as well as across the street is his funeral home and he has a business in Norwalk, a Baker’s Funeral Home.

    • Brenda Jernigan

      WRONG. Lives on Baldwin Street and owns two other properties on Baldwin. After a while it will be named Andre Baker St.??? He has a business in Norwalk, a funeral home.

      • Lisa Parziale

        Before Bob Walsh left, Andre Baker told me he would move to Brooklawn to run with me in the 132nd district. I just couldn’t bring myself to go back to that particular council class. That’s how like-minded we were at the council level. I don’t know much about the State Rep race in his district, but I would never say a disparaging word about him. Charlie Coviello and I go back to the ’70s and the Young Dems, he’s also a good friend. This is one race where I wish the two of them could be elected. All right, I know that’s dumb.

  • Pete Spain

    Let’s review these two paragraphs from the CT Post article–verbatim:

    No complaint will be coming from the Connecticut Democratic Party which embraced Newton as a member of the Democratic State Central Committee following his conviction last year for election financing fraud.

    “We look forward to moving past this dispute. Given the district convention results, there will now be a primary for this seat. After that contest, we must come together to elect strong Democrats across our state,” said Connecticut Democratic Party Spokesperson Leigh Appleby.

    What in God’s name? It wasn’t a “dispute.” Those involved tried and came close to stealing Senator Gomes’ right to be on the primary ballot.

    Our Democratic State Central Committee is dysfunctional and immoral. If it wanted strong Democrats, it wouldn’t allow the substandard buffoons–some criminals–in Bridgeport to preside over nominations and to break the rules without serious penalties.

    BTW, at the City Council “public comment” on Tuesday, Ernie made a statement I’ve heard him state before: The difference between a criminal and a non-criminal is the non-criminal hasn’t been caught. How uplifting and bogus!

    He didn’t win any applause from the audience for that fiction.

  • DougDavidoff

    Three cheers to Ed Gomes and his legal team, and to Judge Bellis. I believe I’ll become the 21st or 22nd comment in this thread. In a city loaded with divisiveness, I note not a single comment to date here has been in favor of Mr. Bradley. Kind of telling, don’t you think?

    • Lisa Parziale

      Doug, he is brand spanking new to politics, which is why Mario was able to use him to do what no one else would do. He went along with Mario’s tampering with the BOA Chairmanship and allowed himself to be Mario’s choice over more experienced members, and he bought the BS from Mario he would be endorsed for the State Senate seat occupied by Ed Gomes. I think he’s going to learn a lesson that will affect his credibility going forward.

  • Phil Smith

    Democratic politics aside, the actions of Ford and Newton reflect badly on the entire city; one more chance for people to say “It’s Bridgeport, what do you expect?”

  • flubadub

    I think Ernie has used up his second chances, no?

  • Jeff Kohut

    The nonchalance of the State Central Committee on this matter speaks to their motive of maintaining chaos and divisiveness in Bridgeport. Political dysfunction in Bridgeport makes it much easier for the state and down-county overlords to keep Bridgeport subservient and “in our place.”

    Now the folks in the state Central Committee have to find another way to leverage Bridgeport chaos and dysfunction out of this election. Let’s see what they’ll come up with. Dan Malloy can’t have a unified front in Bridgeport voting our interest at the state level, that could upset the down-county balance of power.

  • Gabriel

    Amazing. Not one person commenting holds Ed Gomes even slightly responsible for his actions or inability to follow well-prescribed rules. At the end of the day every candidate is responsible for failure or success of said campaign. “I didn’t know,” or “I didn’t understand ” should be a disqualifier within itself. To argue not implies the candidate is stupid or of such diminished mental capacity, special dispensation must be given.

    So which is it?

    • Phil Smith

      I think Judge Bellis made it pretty clear Ed should have requested the certification but that doing so would have been futile because of the obstacles Ford had put in place.

    • Ron Mackey

      Gabriel, “While Bellis said Gomes had not taken the steps to file the necessary paperwork on time, she ruled that “roadblocks” were set up against Gomes, particularly by Ford who she said failed in his duty to provide the consent form to Gomes while issuing the paperwork to Bradley, the candidate he supports.” As you can read, Judge Bellis addressed your concern. Yes, Ed should have done his part, now are you happy? Now read about those “roadblocks” and you’ll see it didn’t matter.

  • Phil Smith

    What I don’t understand is the State’s Attorney’s “nobody has filed a criminal complaint” response to questions about whether Ford should be prosecuted based on Judge Bellis’ findings.

  • Bob Walsh

    Wouldn’t the judge normally make a referral in a civil case?
    Surely you wouldn’t expect the state’s attorney’s office to move on our jury matters based on stories in newspapers?
    There is no prosecutor involved.

  • Bob Walsh

    Gabriel’s comments show what is wrong with the system and what is wrong with the Democratic Party in Connecticut. Blame the victim. There are very serious flaws in the whole process beginning with the lack of mandatory training for anyone who wants to serve as a convention chair.
    Then let’s make the SOTS’s office responsible. They have the convention report since Ralph filled it out for Bradley. They have a form Senator Gomes completed to start the process of participating in the Citizens Election Fund but the SOTS is under no requirement to connect the dots.
    There’s lots of room for lots of reform. Let’s see if it actually happens.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Amen, Keith!

  • Ron Mackey

    Phil Smith, what was the name of the master plan that was done to assist Bridgeport’s future?

  • Ron Mackey

    Andy, I’m not joking. I believe the person who was in charge was from Pittsburgh and his first name was Jacob.

    • Phil Smith

      It was Dr. Jacob Ukeles who was based in New York. Most of them were very good.

      • Ron Mackey

        BINGO!!! Yes that’s it, thanks Phil. I know the Fire department made a lot of changes from that report that really moved the department to be more modern and effective. Many of those items the City brought up during the time I was on the negotiating team. That master plan needs to be reviewed and used and updated if necessary but it was a good roadmap for the running of the City.

      • Lisa Parziale

        OMG, I do remember him, Phil. It’s hard to keep four decades of information in my head; you, of course, were always good at that. Our designated historian.

        • Phil Smith

          As someone said a long time ago, those who ignore history’s lessons are bound to relive them. There are many people like that in Bridgeport and, apparently, in this administration.

  • Phil Smith

    The report recommended significant reforms in the city’s financial management (including the creation of OPM) and its approach to the city budget. Much of the 1988 Charter Revision was devoted to implementing those recommendations. Sadly, after Bucci left office the city slipped back into its old ways of doing business.

  • Phil Smith

    Bill was the chair. I was just the Executive Director.

  • Ron Mackey

    Phil, a little more history. Bill Holden’s name was placed into nomination to be the DTC chairman back in 1993 to run against Mario Testa but he lost 53 to 37. The entire 139th district didn’t vote for Bill. Well since that time Bill Holden is now the Honorable Judge William Holden.

  • Phil Smith

    Bill Holden is typical of the kind of person, without a personal agenda, that we need more of in Bridgeport politics. Unfortunately, the kind of behavior we’ve seen in this case often drives them away.

  • Brenda Jernigan


  • Godiva2011

    Brenda Jernigan–Yes, the Honorable Judge William Holden is truly a class act. He is the epitome of a gentleman. Now this is a man who should be a role model for today’s youth, regardless of their race. It is my personal privilege to know Judge Holden.

  • Godiva2011

    As far as the good Judge having an interest in Bridgeport politics, who can blame him for shying away from it? Every time you think things cannot get any worse, one more Bridgeport political operative comes along to further tarnish whatever credibility the City’s reputation has left.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    “Last year Ford, who worked at a state psychiatric clinic in Bridgeport, was fined $15,000 for using state computers and other state employees for his private clinic.” Ralph Ford claims Judge Bellis “doesn’t ever know me.” No sir. We all do. You and Ernie “Moses” Newton are crooks. What’s more you continue to behave in a crooked manner. Now get the fuck out.

  • Maria Pereira

    You are right. Anyone who is even slightly involved in politics knows what these two individuals stand for. Like what’s in it for me, dishonesty, unethical behavior, slimy, charlatans, etc.

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