State Election Complaint Charges Gomes And Conflicted Gen Now Votes With Illegal Campaign Coordination

Gomes decaled car, parked illegally by hydrant, where he met with activist Gemeem Davis to discuss campaign strategy.

A complicit agreement between mayoral candidate John Gomes and leaders of the conflicted community group Bridgeport Generation Now Votes is part of an election complaint filing with the State Elections Enforcement Commission citing multiple examples of violations of campaign finance law including a recent meeting between the candidate and co-founder of the organization Gemeem Davis inside Gomes’ car, chronicled by OIB.

Gen Now Votes leaders Gemeem Davis, Callie Heilmann at recent house event in Black Rock with John Gomes, right.

Under law an organizational set up such as Gen Now Votes may spend unlimited amounts of money in support of or against a candidate for public office but such efforts cannot be coordinated between the expenditure committee and the beneficiary, in this case Gomes.

The complaint by Mayor Joe Ganim supporter, City Councilwoman Eneida Martinez, who successfully petitioned the state election watchdog to fine Gomes supporter Harry Carrillo $1,000 for falsifying his address to run for City Council, highlights numerous ways the parties flouted state law.

From the complaint:

In a recent article published in OnlyinBridgeport entitled “Illegal Coordination Dogs
Gomes And Gen Now Votes,” there was a public revelation that Gemeem Davis, a principal
and co-leader of Generation Now Votes (a.k.a. “Gen Now Votes”), had a secret meeting on
February 12, 2024 at approximately 4:15pm with John Gomes, a candidate for Mayor in
Bridgeport’s Special General Election, in his vehicle. According to the eyewitness account,
John Gomes pulled up to the curb and Davis got into the passenger side of the vehicle. The
vehicle is well-known for having a large “Gomes for Mayor” decal in the back window.
According to the account, Gomes and Davis drove around in downtown Bridgeport for
about 20 minutes and then Davis was dropped off not far from the Generation Now office.
The eyewitness pulled over to inform Davis that he was aware of the fact that they were
meeting and illegally coordinating. Davis admitted to these events and made the following
public statement:

Yes, I spoke with John Gomes on Main Street in broad daylight. Last I checked it is not
illegal for me to talk with people. At Gen Now Votes we are well aware of the rules
This episode of coordination follows a pattern of previous involvement and
coordination with the Gomes campaign by the leaders of Generation Now Votes including,
but not limited to:
The principals and co-leaders of Gen Now Votes—Callie Heilmann and
Gemeem Davis—attending Gomes for Mayor fundraising events;
Personal campaign contributions made by the principals of Gen Now Votes
(and Niels Hielmann who is the husband of Callie Hielmann and major funder
of Gen Now Votes) to the Gomes for Mayor campaign;

Callie Heilmann and Gemeem Davis attending a Gomes for Mayor house event
in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport; and,
Several sightings of the principals of Generation Now Votes speaking with
candidate John Gomes and his campaign operatives in public places.
All of this information is well-known, and can be corroborated through pictures and
eyewitness testimony. It is highly unlikely that there are not other encounters, phone calls,
emails, or other communications that have been concealed or have gone unnoticed.
Additionally, it is public knowledge that Generation Now Votes has formally
endorsed John Gomes for Mayor. In furtherance of its endorsement of Gomes, Generation
Now Votes has spent money and other resources including, but not limited to:
Paying poll-standers for John Gomes;
Paying for text message campaigns on behalf of John Gomes and in opposition to
Gomes’s opponent Joe Ganim;
Paying for mailers which both promote John Gomes for Mayor and advocate against
Mayor Joe Ganim;
Sponsoring paid advertising on social media promoting John Gomes for Mayor and
opposing Joe Ganim; and,
Phone-banking on behalf of the Gomes for Mayor campaign.

Complaint – Violation of Law

Under the laws of the State of Connecticut, which has some of the most robust campaign
finance laws in the nation, candidate committees for the office of Mayor are only allowed to
accept up to $1,000 from an individual donor. State law also permits very limited
contributions from other committees, such as labor union committees and town committees.

Such contributions may be made directly or in-kind. However, state law
prohibits such contributions—both direct and in-kind—from all other business entities,
non-profits, and other organizations.

Generation Now Votes is a 501(c)(4) organization under federal law. This means
that the organization, unlike its 501(c)(3) affiliate Generation Now, may promote and
oppose candidates for public office.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, this organization may raise and spend UNLIMITED amounts of money from donors.

However, the one important guardrail that protects the integrity of our state’s campaign
finance limits is that such organizations may only engage in “independent expenditures.”
An independent expenditure is any communication that is NOT coordinated or made
with the cooperation, consultation, or at the request of a candidate or political party.
Enforcement of the ban on coordination between a 501(c)(4) and a candidate’s
political campaign is crucial to the integrity of our campaign finance system in Connecticut.
If a candidate can directly coordinate with, consult with, or make a request of a 501(c)(4),
then it obliterates the need for and the purpose of the fundraising limits imposed by state
law. Instead of the candidate raising a maximum of $1,000 from donors directly to the
campaign, the candidate could instead raise an unlimited amount of money from
individuals through the 501(c)(4) organization, and then spend that unlimited war chest
without the same checks and balances that state law imposes on candidate committees.

To prevent the undermining of our system, it is well-understood under both federal
law and state law that a “firewall” must exist between a candidate’s campaign and a
501(c)(4). While the 501(c)(4) can endorse and promote a candidate for public office, as
well as oppose candidates for public office, the principals of the 501(c)(4) cannot and should not in any way be talking to, meeting with, organizing with, or strategizing with the principals of the campaign committee, especially the candidate!

Here, Generation Now Votes is in clear violation of IRS regulations and the campaign
finance laws of the State of Connecticut. The principals of Gen Now Votes have been
uncomfortably and deeply involved in the inner-workings of the Gomes for Mayor
campaign, have attended several Gomes for Mayor fundraising and non-fundraising events,
have contributed directly to the Gomes for Mayor campaign, and have engaged in secret
meetings and conversations with Gomes and his operatives.

The fact that John Gomes and Gemeem Davis were “caught” engaging in a secret meeting days before the general election should be of great concern to the State Election Enforcement Commission and a sign that the violation of law here is flagrant and intentional. There is no rational, legal explanation for this behavior. Gomes and Davis were clearly not meeting up to talk about the weather.

Ultimately, this type of coordination is an extremely dangerous precedent that
the State Elections Enforcement Commission cannot and must not allow to go
unchecked. Can you imagine if a Citizens Election Program-eligible candidate for
state-wide office or the General Assembly engaged in this type of coordination with a
501(c)(4)? What if major corporations that have 501(c)(4) affiliates made these kinds of
in-kind contributions to campaigns for Governor or State Treasurer? If this behavior is
allowed, we can all say goodbye to our state’s robust public financing system as we know it.

I encourage the SEEC to take up this matter immediately, to issue an order to cease
and desist to Gen Now Votes for any further expenditures on behalf of the Gomes for Mayor
campaign, and levy an appropriate fine to Gen Now’s principals for obvious and intentional
efforts to violate our state’s campaign finance laws through unlawful in-kind contributions.


  1. Political activities or lobbying. Does my organization need to participate in any political activities or lobbying? If so, does that political activity or lobbying need to include bias? If you answer “yes” to both questions, consider applying for 501(c)(4) status. If not, you might consider a 501(c)(3) status.

    More horse-shit from OIB!

      1. Lennie, here’s what really counts!

        This story has been updated.
        Political opponents of Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim are raising questions about whether his brother, Tom Ganim, improperly helped to reduce the property taxes on a home shortly after the mayor purchased it in early 2021.
        Jack Hennessy, a former Connecticut state legislator who is backing Joe Ganim’s mayoral challenger John Gomes, filed several complaints on Friday related to the mayor’s purchase of a more than 7,000 square-foot home in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport and a subsequent appeal that reduced the taxes on that property by 65%.
        The complaints over the property were filed less than two weeks before Joe Ganim and Gomes are set to face off in a new general election on Feb. 27. The two men have been locked in a vicious mayoral campaign that was extended after a judge determined that several Ganim supporters likely violated state election laws by harvesting absentee ballots ahead of the city’s Democratic primary last September.
        [How the battle for absentee ballots defined the Bridgeport election]
        Joe Ganim purchased the home for $333,000 in January 2021. Property records reviewed by The Connecticut Mirror show the home was initially listed at $699,900 but had been on the market for months when the mayor’s offer was accepted.
        Then, after the sale, the taxes owed on the property, at 37 Thorne Place, dropped from $29,000 per year to a little over $10,000, providing a substantial savings to the mayor.
        Joe Ganim sold the property for more than $1.1 million last year. Not long before that, the property taxes on the home went back up to over $17,000 per year, due to several improvements he made to the property.
        It was known that the mayor’s tax liability on that property was reduced starting in 2021, but records obtained by Hennessy and the Gomes campaign shed new light onto how the property taxes were slashed.
        Joe Ganim did not respond to requests for an interview, which were sent to the mayor’s office. But Tiadora Josef, a spokeswoman for the mayor, forwarded an email that was drafted by an official in the Bridgeport Assessor’s office that argued the tax adjustment was handled appropriately.
        The complaints that Hennessy sent to the Bridgeport Ethics Commission, the Connecticut Attorney General’s office and Connecticut’s Statewide Grievance Committee, which polices attorney misconduct, focus on two issues with the property transaction.
        They question whether it was ethical for Tom Ganim, who is an attorney, to represent Mary Daley, the woman Joe Ganim purchased the home from.
        The complaints also question how Tom Ganim was able to challenge the tax assessment on the property on behalf of Daley after she had already sold the property to the mayor. The complaint cites a Connecticut law that states only the individuals or entities paying the taxes on the property can appeal an assessment.
        City property records show Daley signed over the deed for the house to Joe Ganim on Jan. 14, 2021. The next day, Tom Ganim filed paperwork with the city on Daley’s behalf to challenge the tax assessment on the property.
        The document that Tom Ganim filed with the Bridgeport Assessor’s Office claimed that the assessed value of the property was drastically inflated and should be reduced. And as evidence for that claim, he cited the purchase price that Joe Ganim agreed to pay for the house.
        The document does not mention that the mayor was the purchaser of that home.

        “The assessed value far exceeds the true property value. The property just sold on 1/14/2021 for $333,000,” wrote Tom Ganim, who signed the document on the line reserved for the listed owner of the property.
        Tom Ganim did not respond to emailed questions for this story that asked why he filed the tax appeal, how he came to represent Mary Daley and why the document doesn’t mention that his brother had purchased the property, which is located near the shoreline in Bridgeport. 
        Hennessy’s complaint asks how Tom Ganim — or Daley — had standing to contest the tax bill on the property, since the house was already sold to Joe Ganim by that point.
        “It is extremely questionable why Mary Daley would care about the value of her home the day after it was sold,” the written complaint states. “It seems highly unethical, based on attorney-client relationships, that the brother of the buyer would represent the seller’s best interest in a real-estate transaction.”
        The timing of the tax appeal, Hennessy said, calls into question who Tom Ganim was actually representing when he petitioned the assessor’s office: his client or his brother.
        “This windfall savings only benefited the new homeowner, Mayor Joseph Ganim,” Hennessy wrote in the complaint.
        The email that the mayor’s office sent to the CT Mirror in response to questions about this story argued that there was nothing out the ordinary about the tax revision on the property, and it suggested that Ganim did not receive any benefit that wasn’t available to other taxpayers in Bridgeport.
        That email, which was written by William Gaffney, the city’s part-time assessor, said the tax reduction on Ganim’s property was a normal part of a city-wide property tax revaluation that took place in Bridgeport in late 2020.
        Any property owner who was paying taxes in Bridgeport, Gaffney said, had the same opportunity to challenge the tax assessments on their homes and businesses around that time.
        The property taxes on 37 Thorne Place, Gaffney explained, were ultimately reduced after the assessor’s office inspected the property and agreed that it “required significant renovation/remodeling at the time of the transfer.”
        But Gaffney’s email, which was sent to Ken Flatto, the city finance director in February 2023, does not mention that the property they were discussing was owned by the mayor, nor does it address whether it was proper for his brother to petition the city for the tax reduction.
        It’s unclear who within the city conducted the inspection on the mayor’s property before the taxes were reduced. Tom Ganim’s request for an informal hearing was approved by someone with the initials “MF,” the documents show.
        The complaints that were filed by Hennessy on Friday allege those initials belong to Michael Fazio, a partner with Municipal Valuation Services, the company that was paid to perform the revaluation on all of the properties in Bridgeport in 2020.
        Fazio did not return a phone call or email for this story.
        This isn’t the first time that Ganim’s ownership of the house in Black Rock has drawn public attention.
        The Connecticut Post previously reported that Ganim violated the city’s ordinances by listing the house as a short term rental. The Post also reported on Ganim’s failure to obtain building permits for the improvements that were made to the house.
        But the allegations over how the taxes were adjusted on the property could be more serious for Ganim, who returned to the mayor’s office in 2015 after serving a seven-years prison sentence on federal corruption charges.
        Bridgeport residents pay some of the highest property tax rates in Connecticut, according to data collected by the state.
        This story was updated to reflect that it is unclear when Tom Ganim initially requested an informal hearing on the Thorne Place property’s assessment.

          1. “Acolyte” of Gomes?

            A really cheap “acolyte” considering he contributed just $20 last month.

  2. I do not always agree with Gen Now votes, however i will say that no organization has done more to educate the voters of Bridgeport as to the rules of Absentee Ballot process and who can request them, who can touch them, who cannot touch them , what the voter’s rights are than Gen Now. over the years. Even more than the state does. People cannot say they did not know the rules unless they are not interested in the rules. Now you know, incase you didn’t know.

    1. As to campaign finance laws, I do not support breaking the law, I am stating that over the years Gen Now for example, had put out a great video explaining step by step process of the AB process. A secure election process is the firewall that protects our democracy, in my opinion, so the results cannot be questions in will help heal the city and the nation. My support is for the process , every aspect of the election process needs to be secure so there is no doubt that the will of the people has been respected.

  3. Election time mud slinging. When all is said and done the Ganim tax revaluation will be found to be legit. There are legal reasons why certain things are filed the way that they are. A revaluation is a review that all property owners are entitled to request. Now for the Gomes Gen Now situation. An outright violation of the law. Neither Gomes or Gen Now apparently care about the law as they pursue their desperate attempt for a power grab. I predict while Joe Ganim is enjoying a well deserved re-election to office,Gomes and Gen Now will be buried deeply in the legal fallout for their illegal activities. John Gomes remember Joe Ganim is known for giving people second chances I believe there is a well deserved job waiting for you at the city transfer station.


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