Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim accuses challenger John Gomes of fraud
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim admitted publicly for the first time on Tuesday his re-election campaign engaged in electoral misconduct.
“I own the fact that the court found people connected with my campaign, engaged in serious voting irregularities,” Ganim said.
Ganim, the Democratic mayor of the state's largest city, barely won the September primary against his challenger John Gomes, leading to a lawsuit by Gomes over absentee ballot fraud and a new primary as a result.
But while Ganim said he took responsibility, he’s not resigning or suspending his campaign. He instead accused Gomes of hypocrisy, claiming his campaign committed absentee ballot fraud as well. Ganim is open to state election monitoring of his campaign, but only if Gomes commits to the same level of scrutiny.
Ganim called on Gomes to come clean on his campaign’s alleged transgressions.
“Gomes must admit that multiple people associated with his campaign, involved in his campaign, engaged in clearly unlawful ballot behavior in the primary as well,” Ganim said.
Ganim said he would be open to the Secretary of the State, Stephanie Thomas, to embed staff in his campaign, and monitor it for absentee ballot procedures to ensure the law is being followed.
But only if Gomes does it too.
“I'm also calling upon Mr. Gomes, my opponent, to do the same,” he said.
Ganim isn’t alone in accusing Gomes of double standards. Bridgeport City Council President Aidee Nieves released a statement on Tuesday.
“The Gomes campaign has gone to great lengths to throw allegations out at other people, while refusing to own up to and confront blatant absentee ballot abuse by their own agents,” Nieves said.
Nieves filed an affidavit with the State Elections Enforcement Commission on Nov. 30. In her affidavit Nieves wrote that she was also accused of electoral misconduct by the Gomes campaign.
Nieves accused several Gomes volunteers of the same actions leading to a new primary; stuffing ballot drop boxes with other people’s ballots.
Gomes’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment. The State Elections Enforcement Commission has since begun to investigate the Sept. 12 primary. A superior court judge ruled in favor of Gomes in October.
Ganim admitted his campaign made mistakes during a press conference and on an earlier interview on a local radio station WICC, and said he values election integrity. But some, like Gemeem Davis, aren't buying it.
Davis is the co-director of the voter advocacy group Bridgeport Generation Now Votes. Davis said Ganim’s offer made no sense since she said the Secretary of State’s office as a nonpartisan entity doesn’t embed staff in campaigns.
“It was a stunt … He wants to pretend that he cares about Bridgeport,” Davis said.