Dem mayoral candidate to contest primary results after accusing city employee of stuffing ballot box for the incumbent

A man who narrowly lost his bid to become the Democratic candidate for mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, plans to contest the results of the primary vote after surveillance footage suggests there may have been election fraud. expressed.

September 12th, current position Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim He narrowly defeated Democratic challenger John Gomez by just 251 votes. Voting on the day of the primary gave Gomez an advantage, but after absentee ballots were counted late that night, Ganim defeated Gomez 4,212 to 3,961.

Gomez, 52, an immigrant from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa, never gave up the race. Then, four days later, his campaign posted a video on its Facebook page that appeared to include footage from Bridgeport City Hall. The message accompanying the video reads: “Video surveillance proves the mayoral election was clearly stolen by corruption within City Hall through tampering with absentee ballots.”

In the video, a woman wearing a brightly colored dress and shoes can be seen making repeated trips to a ballot box set up outside City Hall. While there, she appears to have deposited what Gomez claims is a bunch of “absentee ballots.” Timestamps on the video show she stopped by the box three times in the early morning hours of September 5th. The first time was at 5:42am, then again about a minute later, and the third time was at 6:39am.

The video also shows her standing by and watching a man, identified as a city employee, try to deposit more money into the ballot box around 7:18 a.m.

Gomez’s camp says the woman in the video is wonder getter pataky, a city employee and longtime supporter of Mayor Ganim. The video includes a short clip of Getter Pataky standing behind Ganim at a campaign event and assuring him, “Mayor, I’m rooting for you.”

Screenshot of Mayor John Gomez’s Facebook video

“There is no question that Wanda Getter-Pataky is the person in the video,” said Christine Bartlett Josey, Gomez’s campaign manager.

Getter Pataky and Ganim have a long history, much of which is obscured by suspicion and controversy. In 2019, with the help of absentee ballots, Ganim once again won a highly competitive primary, this time against state Sen. Marilyn Moore. In June, state election officials unanimously passed a resolution recommending criminal charges against three of Ganim’s campaign associates over possible fraud in the 2019 primary election. Getter Pataky is one of his three campaign collaborators.

Mayor Ganim also has a history of despicable political behavior. In fact, his term as mayor, which began in 1991, was interrupted 12 years later when he resigned after being convicted of crimes related to accepting bribes and kickbacks during his tenure. He served seven years in prison, then returned to the outside world and made a spectacular comeback, winning re-election as mayor in 2015 and again four years later.

Ganim, now 63, responded to these latest accusations against campaign supporters. “I want to make it clear that I do not condone conduct in any way by anyone, including the campaign, the city, or elected officials, that undermines the integrity of the campaign or the city’s assets,” he said in a statement. Monday. “The Bridgeport Police Department is actively investigating all of these matters, and my administration will continue to update the public as more information becomes available.”

Bridgeport police have indeed opened an investigation into the alleged incident. But it has also launched an investigation into how the city hall surveillance video was leaked. “An internal investigation is being conducted to determine if any breach of our security video management system occurred.” statement Bridgeport PD said in part. Gomez’s campaign claimed it received the video from an individual after the primary ended.

Under Connecticut law, absentee voters can have another person deposit their ballot on their behalf, but the law severely limits who that person can be. Those authorized to deposit absentee ballots for others include family members, caregivers, some qualified medical professionals, police officers, and voter registrars.

Gomez’s campaign has reportedly filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections over allegations of absentee ballot fraud. SEEC spokesman Josh Foley could not comment on whether the agency had received any such complaints, but confirmed the commission would meet Wednesday.

Gomez’s camp is also seeking a court injunction regarding the fraud charges. Bill Bross, a lawyer for the campaign, argued that the campaign is asking the judge to declare Gomez the winner. Without that, they hope a judge will throw out the Sept. 12 results and force a new primary election.

Connecticut Secretary of State Stephanie Thomas called the video footage of the alleged fraud disturbing, but insisted she had no authority to intervene in the situation. She recommended that SEEC and local law enforcement conduct a “prompt and thorough investigation.”

Getter Pataky did not respond to CT Mirror’s request for comment.

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