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CT elections regulators probe Bridgeport mayoral challenger John Gomes' campaign

Bridgeport Democratic mayoral challenger John Gomes speaks to reporters at his election night headquarters on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.
Ebong Udoma
Bridgeport Democratic mayoral challenger John Gomes speaks to reporters at his election night headquarters on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

Connecticut’s State Election Enforcement Commission has voted to investigate a video allegedly depicting Bridgeport Mayoral candidate John Gomes’ supporters stuffing the ballot box.

The complaint was filed by City Council President Aidee Nieves.

She claims the videos, which were taken ahead of the Democratic primary in September, show Gomes supporters visiting the ballot box up to 11 times.

State law says it is illegal to have another person’s ballot unless you are a “designee” — those can only be a caregiver, family member, police officer or registrar of voters.

Gomes has maintained that his campaign workers were acting legally.

“These supporters voluntarily spoke to the city attorneys and offered an explanation regarding whose ballots they had and the number,” the Gomes campaign said in a statement. “After speaking with the attorneys, the subpoenas were withdrawn by the defendants (city & mayor).”

In the statement, his campaign added the Ganim campaign should have focused on the videos during the civil trial that resulted in a primary do-over.

"These are the same videos that the mayor’s and the city’s lawyers chose not to offer into evidence at the civil trial after placing the two Gomes supporters under subpoena and speaking with them,” the statement read. “The city and the mayor subsequently withdrew their claims of misconduct by the Gomes campaign and did not raise it in any post-trial briefing.”

But in the complaint, Nieves said the Gomes campaign deliberately hid the videos during the trial.

“While these videos were entered into evidence at trial, the Gomes campaign and their attorney deliberately did not highlight them for the court, the press or the public," Nieves said in the complaint, which was received on Dec. 1.

The Gomes campaign went on to say that they do not expect the investigation to be fruitful.

“On the other hand, the court found that Ganim supporters committed “shocking” violations of law,” the campaign said. “If the mayor had evidence that the Gomes campaign broke the law he could have offered it in court; the mayor and city attorneys did not. We have no reason to believe that the SEEC will come to any different conclusion than those of the mayor and the attorneys representing the city."

The primary re-do is scheduled for Jan. 23.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.