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Tit For Tat: Ganim Campaign Files Federal Complaint Against Finch Campaign

September 11th, 2015 · 67 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Law Enforcement, News and Events

And the political drum beat goes on … you file a complaint, we file a complaint. A legal representative of Joe Ganim’s campaign has filed a complaint with federal authorities charging that political operatives of Mayor Bill Finch leveraged connections with the election division of state government that usurped the authority of the Bridgeport Registrar of Voters to conduct supervised absentee ballot voting pursuant to state statute.

What we’ve seen the past few days is groundwork for a lawsuit if Wednesday’s Democratic primary is close enough to warrant a legal challenge.

Finch’s Campaign Manager Maryli Secrest a few days ago filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission and Office of the Connecticut Secretary of the State regarding “the disenfranchise of electors who have requested an absentee ballot and will be prevented from voting by this process.”

In the complaint Secrest asserts that Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala and Town Clerk Alma Maya are “failing to adhere to Connecticut election law.”

State elections officials on Thursday advised Maya because she did not receive a complete schedule of supervised balloting locations from Ayala that she  must mail all of those requests to absentee ballot applicants that were set aside. As a result, roughly 700 absentee ballots were mailed on Thursday.

State law provides local registrars with the authority to conduct supervised balloting when 20 absentee ballot applications come from a particular address. It helps to provide a check against campaign operatives trying to manipulate votes by absentee. It also provides an option for electors who filled out an absentee ballot application to vote at their desired designated precinct.

Any voter at the designated address who signed an absentee application and wants to vote by absentee ballot can do so that day under the supervision of elections officials.

Friday’s Ganim complaint addressed to the United States Attorney’s Office and civil division of the FBI brought by R. Christopher Meyer, who formerly worked in the City Attorney’s Office, asserts that Peggy Reeves, director of State Election Division for the Connecticut Secretary of the State, directed staff attorney Ted Bromley to engineer a meeting forcing Town Clerk Alma Maya, a Ganim supporter, to mail out absentee ballots that she was directed to hold at the discretion of Ayala.

Meyer charges that legal representatives of the city and Finch campaign including City Attorney Mark Anastasi “intimidated Maya, without legal authority,” to release supervised absentee ballots through the mail.

The complaint asserts, “The Town Clerk, Alma Maya, believed that she had no choice and was required to release approximately up to 700 absentee ballots to places and locations where ‘supervised balloting’ was to take place …”

The complaint contends that under state law local registrars have sole discretion to choose locations for supervised balloting.

“This is clearly an unscrupulous effort of Mayor Finch and his cronies to steal the election by encouraging and engaging in absentee ballot fraud.”

The complaint asks for a federal investigation into depriving candidates with the protections setup by the legislature.

“It should be noted, elections enforcement refused the early request of the Town Clerk for oversight of absentee balloting in Bridgeport. Now they covertly met with and intimidated the Town Clerk into violating the law …”

Finch, Ganim and Mary-Jane Foster will square off in Wednesday’s Democratic primary for mayor.

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67 Comments so far ↓

  • Quentin Dreher

    This is so sad! Is there any integrity left in this city?

  • Donald Day

    QD, Mary-Jane Foster.

  • Jimfox

    I think we need some hanging chads!

  • Bob Walsh

    I can only verify three things:
    1) Someone is stealing this election
    2) It ain’t Mary-Jane.
    3) Apparently no legal authority gives a rat’s ass.

  • Quentin Dreher

    Bob, you’re right; it’s so frustrating. I’m not a registered Democrat so I have no skin in the game for the primary, but it’s my city also. When I hear people from other parts of the state and the country (I work for a large company) refer to this city as one big corrupt joke, it hurts. And then when they see these things in the paper like this, it’s hard to defend. The killer is there are some good, smart people in this city, but election after election we revert back to the same bad habits. It’s very frustrating!

    • Hector A. Diaz

      Quentin, comments from people in other cities who are doing nothing and have no idea what their municipal government is up to? F THEM. Bridgeport is no different than any other big city. So my point is it is not you who should feel hurt, but PROUD you have taken it upon yourself to be involved. You can however feel SORRY for them. Anyone can comment on the misgivings of another city in a game they know nothing about.

      • Jennifer Buchanan

        If Bridgeport were a self-funded, self-contained city not dependent on state and federal tax dollars (which comes from taxes paid by citizens outside this city), I would agree with you, Hector. This city constantly makes state headlines for corruption–driveway gate, car booting, State Reps and Senators going to jail for fraud–these types of issues make it very difficult for our city elected officials to lobby for more distribution of tax dollars to our city, and makes people think twice about moving here and doing business in this city. The CT Post did an article a few years ago claiming Mario Testa was responsible for about 80% of city jobs and contracts, which he did not deny. His response was, so I tell them if they cannot do the job, fire them. That kind of publicity and insiders game is at the very least one of the reasons convincing anyone to invest in this city is such an uphill battle. And it certainly makes it easy for the rest of the state reps and senators to say clean your own house first before we help you.

      • Joel Gonzalez

        Bravo, Hector A. Diaz! Quentin, Diaz and Buchanan make some very good points or should I say dots. I’ll connect the dots. The fact leaders from other Connecticut cities and towns don’t or have ever given a shit about Bridgeport is no secret and nothing new. We on the other hand don’t have to resort to saying “F them,” they’ve done that to themselves. There was a time when Bridgeport was obviously the crack and heroin capital of the state. During all those years, I’m sure leaders from other parts of the state were saying, ‘Fuck Bridgeport, as long as they don’t come to my town.” Welcome to 2015. In bucolic (add any town), Sally 4.0
        Grade Average was found dead in her room of a heroin overdose. Bobby Ivy League bound has graduated from crackhead school and is working on his doctorate in his mini meth lab. Fuck us, eh? Just because we don’t read much about negative or criminal activities in other cities and towns doesn’t mean it’s not happening, nor are they doing any better than us.

        • Jennifer Buchanan

          We are the highest taxed city in the state. Our public schools across the board are failing. “They” are most certainly doing better than us.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Santa Ayala and Alma Maya are Ganim people, as if the entire city doesn’t know that! Honest to G-d.

  • Bob Walsh

    And they were trying to enforce supervised voting to keep the process clean and open. But the city and state forced Alma to cancel the vote and to send out the ABs.
    I realize this is way too complicated for Stevie to comprehend, but try. Maybe you will get it sooner or later.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Bob, this is what I get right now. Mary-Jane Foster will come in third place. Alma Maya is on Ganim’s ticket. Foster doesn’t have a ticket and you lost the election. Did I get that straight? Btw, did you respond to my Bluefish question?

      • Andrew C Fardy

        Steve, fuck you and the Bluefish, your attempt to pass on FALSE information is not working. You are lower than whale shit.

        • The Bridgeport Kid

          Well well well Steve,
          Looks like I’m not the only one who sees you are an obnoxious gas bag. You have no integrity; that explains why you support Finch. It also explains why you have nothing of any consequence to contribute to the discussion threads. Now do us all a favor: put your tail between your legs and crawl back under your rock before you get run over by aq Bimbo’s bread truck.

          • Steven Auerbach

            Bridgeport Kid, you are in good company with Andy Fardy. I always appreciate your kind words. I always say to Lennie Grimaldi, Lennie, that Bridgeport Kid is a wonderful human being.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Bubba, may I add it was the Finch administration that called in the State with the assistance of the City Attorney’s office. Mary-Jane and Ganim had no knowledge this was being done until it happened. I know Ganim and Mary-Jane are conducting an impeccable absentee operation witnessed by the combined ballots received by both candidates, as opposed to Finch’s. This process would have gone smoothly had the Registrar and Town Clerk been left to do their jobs. As a result of this interference, with no justification, 700-plus voters will not have the opportunity to vote.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Bubba, I think I just reread (don’t know if that’s a word), but if I am, nobody forced the Town Clerk to send out those ballots. The Registrar stood firm and refused to change the supervised balloting, but unfortunately the Town Clerk gave into the pressure. She could have taken the same position as the Registrar, and those ballots would have been supervised as scheduled. Being in similar situations, I realize we’re all different when our backs are against the wall, Alma couldn’t take the intimidation, and she shouldn’t have had to be in that position. Shame on the State and Finch!

  • Quentin Dreher

    Steve,
    The game of who’s who really doesn’t matter. It’s the perception of the entire city. These same people have been playing the same games for the past 30 years; Finch’s people today, Ganim’s people yesterday; they’re the same people, same names. They’re not new. And now all of a sudden ALL the Democrats are up in arms because it’s your primary. “How can this be,” they say. “Stealing an election? Oh my G-d.” Well welcome to the bullshit the rest of us have been dealing with for the last 30 years. Sucks, doesn’t it?!

    • Steven Auerbach

      Quentin, I guess it sucks to be you. :-) A Republican. Ganim knows he doesn’t have the votes but knows how to make news. Ganim knows he doesn’t have the absentee ballot votes, he has been away from politics too long to do the crap he used to do. They know the polls and they know it is four days to his defeat. He will not limp in the general election, like Foster they will be done!

    • Lisa Parziale

      Quentin, as a long-time elected official and Registrar, this has never happened before. There will always be allegations of absentee fraud, and some of it is true, but wrap your head around this one, 700-plus people are being denied their fundamental right to vote because one of the candidates used influence to bring about this scenario. Don’t editorialize on this one!

  • Bob Walsh

    Think about it, folks. Bill Finch has seven years in office. A half a million in the bank. And he needs to encourage voter fraud to try to win the election. Yes Stevie, that is your man with a plan. But it is not your Economic Development plan but a plan on how to win by cheating.

    • BPT Punisher

      You get a federal complaint … you get a federal complaint … EVERYONE GETS FEDERAL COMPLAINTS (in my best possible Oprah voice).

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Exactly, Bob. Finch has $500,000 in his campaign warchest, money acquired through the sale of tax abatements purchased by greedy developers. He can’t win the election fairly or honestly so he’s spending money to rig the election. It worked twice before, why the hell not? Ganim’s people know how to play the game; he revised the rules 20 years ago. All these letters to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI and the federal elections enforcement commission is just another dog-and-pony show for the cheap seats.

      If Mary-Jane Foster accomplishes anything, it will be exposing the dirty games that have plagued Bridgeport politics for too long. Dannel Malloy and Denise Merrill will not get involved. They owe their public offices to Mario Testa and the Bridgeport DTC.

      All the tit-for-tat bullshit between the Ganim and Finch camps is causing more than a little disgust among likely voters. Chances are they will cancel each other out come Wednesday.

      • Steven Auerbach

        Kid, you’re probably right! Oh well.

        • The Bridgeport Kid

          By the way, Steve,
          I heard you went out canvassing with Tyisha Toms. She was trying to collect signatures for her petition to get on the November ballot. There you were tagging along, with a Finch button. She didn’t get many signatures that day because people thought she was running on the Finch ticket; she is not (nor is she running on the Ganim ticket). But that didn’t matter. It’s all about you, not the candidate.

          No one posting here respects your opinion because you don’t have any opinions, only insults and personal attacks. So we respond in kind. The Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So if you act like an asshole (which you do most all the time), it shouldn’t be a surprise others treat you as an asshole should be treated. You started it. You make only personalized attacks, not disagreement or criticism. It’s always “all about Steve,” not about the mayoral candidate you claim to support. You offer no defenses of him, just the development projects that started during the ’90s when Joseph P. Ganim was in office.

          You’re so full of shit your hat doesn’t fit.

          • Steven Auerbach

            Excuse me, who is the mayor in charge of bringing every one of the projects to fruition? Mayor Bill Finch. He is well respected in and outside of Bridgeport. Just not by you! I believe the mayor has a great team in place.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Boo hoo hoo Bobbie, Boo Hoo Hoo.

      Bluefish response, please!

      • Come Back Bridgeport

        Steve–what Bluefish response are you seeking?

        • The Bridgeport Kid

          He wants to know what bait to use.

        • Steven Auerbach

          There was an article in the paper a few years ago. I asked Bob Walsh to respond 10 times. The article read the Bluefish were in the red four years prior to the sale. The individual who purchased the Bluefish allegedly gave $250,000 the year before the sale so they could meet payroll. The Bluefish were years behind in rent and Ganim was the mayor. I read the newspaper article. I was dumbfounded.

  • BOE SPY

    Bob–did you miss the part about Maya not receiving a complete schedule of supervised balloting locations from Ayala (both Joe Ganim). These two were going to deny 700 BPT residents the right to vote probably because these 700 people were going to vote for Finch.

    • BOE SPY

      Of Foster. I bet the 700 were not going to vote for Ganim.

    • Lisa Parziale

      That is absolutely not true. SPY, you’re failing!

      • BOE SPY

        Not true? It said this in the article. I copy/pasted it from above:
        ‘State elections officials on Thursday advised Maya because she did not receive a complete schedule of supervised balloting locations from Ayala that she must mail all of those requests to absentee ballot applicants that were set aside. As a result, roughly 700 absentee ballots were mailed on Thursday.’

        In English: Ayala did not put this AB location on the schedule for supervised voting. The ballots would have been taken to the location with the voting supervisors to be filled out. If the location were left off the schedule the ballots would have never gotten there.

  • Ron Mackey

    Well, we do know BOE SPY is Adam (Would do anything) Wood.

  • Quentin Dreher

    Steve, what’s going on here is no joke. Real people are being hurt.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Now that’s true!

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Give it up, Quentin. Steve doesn’t care about the people who may be disenfranchised. He doesn’t care because Bill Finch built a water park, which makes everything wonderful. Forget about the fact the Finch administration is building a high school on property that is contaminated with industrial pollutants. Forget about the fact the tax collector is taking the cars of poor people for back taxes instead of allowing them to make payment arrangements. (Bill Finch doesn’t care either. His response was “Those people should learn to pay their taxes.” Exactly who are ‘those people,’ Mr. Finch? Maybe Adam “Pecker” Wood can answer the question. He’s lurking around here as BOE SPY.) Steve doesn’t care the tax abatement offered to develop housing on the Father Panik property would cost Bridgeport’s taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year in increased school enrollment, water pollution treatment and public safety costs. Not that any of that matters to Steve. He is just angry the Ganim administration fired him from a no-show job.

      It sucks to be Steve Auerbach. No one likes him and he is so miserable he can’t understand why.

      • BOE SPY

        Well, I am not Adam Wood. Even if I were Adam Wood, that does not instantly negate the information presented. True is still true.

        But to answer your question, ‘these people’ are car tax delinquents and that is all. Your attempts to throw racial overtures on the phrase ‘these people’ are a little juvenile. Statistically speaking the tax delinquents are probably poor or else they would have paid the taxes. This is obvious because the reason for not paying taxes is because you do not have the money. A disproportionate number were probably minority as 54% of the people in BPT are minorities. 18% of all people in BPT are below the poverty level. Hispanics represent the highest percentage of BPT’s poor, whites the lowest.
        www .city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Bridgeport-Connecticut.html

      • Steven Auerbach

        Bridgeport Kid, do you ever give up?

    • Steven Auerbach

      Quentin, what do I have to do with this? Everyone has the right to vote. Nobody has the right to take away their vote, the way the Republicans try to do. I agree with Lisa Parziale and I think Alma Maya and Santa Ayala (Ganim supporters) were not on top of their game.

      • Jennifer Buchanan

        Honestly–700 Democrats possibly denied voting by Democrat officials, Democrat mayor tries to have BOE appointed and not elected and you want to blame the Republicans? It is both parties who want to suppress the vote, at every level in every election.
        Republican Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, responded on Twitter that night: “To #Obama: The last non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America concluded that #VoterID was necessary.” (Abbott is running for Texas governor in 2014.)

        A commission co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, a Republican, released a report in 2005 that recommended states require citizens to present ID cards to vote. We rated this claim True.

        In October, an email blast from the Democratic Governors’ Association said “BREAKING: Texas Governor Rick Perry’s voter ID law is a blatant effort to defeat Wendy Davis by disenfranchising tens of thousands of women voters.” The ID proposal became law two years before Davis emerged as a serious gubernatorial prospect. The claim lacked proof that the the Texas law was intended to disenfranchise tens of thousands of women or had such an immediate effect. PolitiFact Texas rated this claim Pants on Fire!

        • BOE SPY

          Both parties have a point. Loose voter ID encourages voter fraud. Fraudulent votes are a problem as every fraudulent vote cancels a valid vote. The voter whose vote got cancelled has been disenfranchised. This is a very covert way of disenfranchising voters. This also relieves the elected officials from the contract they have to work for the voters.

          When voter ID standards are too stringent you have someone directly not being able to vote. That person is being disenfranchised in a more obvious way.

          For the system to work you have to have a balance between the two. Some voter fraud will always take place. This will be the problem for law enforcement to address. Some people will just not be able to acquire or maintain proper identification or address. This will be a problem for the registrar of voters to address.

          Unfortunately, each side is hell bent on an all-or-nothing plan that only seems to ensure the maximum number of voters will be disenfranchised.

  • invincible

    I have been watching quietly. BOE SPY, you are wrong on this one. Lisa, I agree with you on BOE. Steve, believe it or not several would’ve been for Mary-Jane (who I happen to like).

    • Steven Auerbach

      Everyone likes Mary-Jane Foster. Unfortunately she has surrounded herself with the worst advisers and the best treasurer and best campaign manager. Walsh, Fardy, Mackey and Day, Moore and Gomes haven’t the ability to bring anyone into the fold. Just real sad!

      She should not have run!!!

  • Bob Walsh

    If the Feds and Staties do not step in, THIS will become the new norm. And if the Feds and Staties wait until after the election to act then it will allow this election to be decided by fraud.
    At a minimum they should impound all ABs on Wednesday and not allow them to be counted until these practices are fully investigated.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Bubba, that would be the only way those ballots could count. At this point, they’re somewhere in cyber space and will not reach the T.C. until it’s too late to matter.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The federal authorities are keeping an eye on things, at the least. The U.S. Department of Justice is already snooping around the tax collector’s office, investigating Charles Valentino. It wouldn’t be any trouble to have assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Civil Rights Division, FBI agents and representatives from the Federal Elections Commission look into the electoral process in Bridgeport.

    Denise Merrill is an old friend of Tax Bill’s from the time they “served” in the legislature together (neither did more than take up space). Dannel Malloy endorsed Finch for another term as repayment for a political favor; it was the ballot fraud in Bridgeport that delivered him a second term. Malloy knows without the ballot shenanigans in Bridgeport he would have lost the election. So he endorsed Finch. That doesn’t seem to be carrying much weight with voters here so he’s going to “manage” the Secretary of the State’s monitoring to ensure Bill Finch’s victory. The federal authorities will have to step in because none of the concerned parties trusts one another. None of them is worthy of trust.

    It is ironic Ganim is now crying for fair and impartial elections after benefiting from the crooked political process in Bridgeport.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Bpt Kid, on this one why don’t we stick to the matter at hand? Those voters don’t care about past politics, they wanted to vote. I have no problem with pontificating, but this is too important; the right to vote was taken from these people. Let’s look back at recent history and remember what it took to guarantee that fundamental right. I worked day and night to defeat Finch’s attempt to do that with the Board of Education. At least some of us had the time to right that wrong, but we’re helpless in this.

      • The Bridgeport Kid

        The Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson a half century ago. Unfortunately ethics and morality cannot be legislated. Joe Ganim wisely, if more than a little cynically, saw his key to reclaiming the mayor’s chair lies with the African American community. The Finch team saw what Ganim was going to do and has been engaging in the same voter suppression tactics employed by Southern Republicans for decades, disenfranchising the African American community. Yet more circumstantial evidence the Finch administration is antipathetic to African Americans and other minorities. Among other things:

        The “boot and tow” program has targeted black neighborhoods throughout the city, confiscating automobiles for the judicial marshals to sell before the debtor has a chance to make payment arrangements. For a program that was allegedly set up to recoup back taxes it looks more like an effort to punish the working poor, an overwhelming majority of whom are African American. (When confronted about the predatory nature of the “boot and tow” program Bill Finch reacted by saying “Those people should learn how to pay their taxes.”

        Now that it looks as if the election is not in the bag, the Finch administration is more than willing to disenfranchise minority voters in an effort to maintain their hold on power. Bob Walsh was right to ask the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to come to town to look things over. There’s no such thing as equality in Bridgeport politics.

      • Booty

        Lisa, I think you may have the wrong handle on this. I suspect the great majority of those ABs came into existence this way:
        An operative filled out the forms herself, and sent them in. When the forms came back, an operative did or will intercept them from the mail (a federal crime, by the way), fill them out and send them in.

        The person who’s name is on the ballot was never involved. If they happen to vote in person come election day, I’m not sure but I believe the AB they didn’t know they requested will be cancelled, no harm done to their right to vote. All those other fraudulent ABs evaporate, great!!!

        I truly believe there are very few “legitimate” ABs impacted by this.

  • gailj2

    Let’s see what Monday brings. Another organization that cares about honest voting may be in the picture. Whether that will do any good remains to be seen. All Bridgeport citizens should be outraged. And members of the Democratic Party especially so.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    All this stuff is bullshit. Why don’t we just do away with voting at the polls and everybody vote by absentee? Denise Merrill is a dumb ass and part of the Democratic party that likes these absentees so elections can be stolen, it’s happened here more than once, just ask Lydia Martinez.
    Many buildings at PT were mailed absentee ballots, my question is why. People were going to work that day? People were going on vacation that day? People would be working on the election and too busy to vote?
    Why are so many seniors getting absentee ballots? Because many (not all) are freaking lazy. Look in the parking lots of the high-rise seniors, they are loaded with cars. They can go out and play Mahjong or Bocci or go for free meals but they can’t go to the polls. Bullshit!!!
    If we can’t all vote by absentee, then let’s get rid of the absentees once and for all.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Well, dealing crack and heroin is an occupation, Andy. The gangbangers have to earn a living while their baby mamas collect welfare.

      • Jennifer Buchanan

        Wondering what occupation they list on their tax returns.

        • The Bridgeport Kid

          I’m guessing the gangbangers list “bad mutha” on their tax returns. They’re stupid enough to brag about criminal behavior on Facebook. That’s how the authorities know who shot whom.

          • Jennifer Buchanan

            Hmmm/ I think I will use that as my occupation next filing. Very good one, Kid!

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    All these letters to the authorities serve to further muddy the waters, making it difficult to see the bottom.

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