Another Forced Apology Tour By Ganim

Bridgeport Democratic mayoral candidate John Gomes outside of the Fairfield Judicial District courthouse after a hearing on Sept. 25, 2023.

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On Tuesday, Mayor Ganim made the announcement that he would not appeal Judge Clark’s ruling, and that he was “embarrassed and sorry for what happened with the campaign,” while denying any knowledge of what was going on with campaign operatives. The mayor also admitted to suffering from what he called “201 Syndrome,” a sense of disconnection from the Bridgeport community. He believes the kickoff of his “listening tour” in early December is a way to re-connect with the residents of Bridgeport.

The admission of past mistakes and the ensuing apology listening tour is a public relations ploy Bridgeport residents have become accustomed to over the past eight years. On January 1 2015, a year after he maintained his innocence in his failed bid to obtain his law license, Ganim apologized to Bridgeport residents in an effort to kickstart his 2nd Chance campaign for mayor.  Two years into his term, Ganim would use his election for mayor as kickoff for failed run for Governor in 2018. In August of 2022, before a five-member bar examining committee, the mayor stated, “I recognize that I was a willing participant, more than a passive player, in that type of activity (racketeering).  I developed a level of arrogance.”  The repeated pattern of denials typically ends with an eventual public admission of guilt, remorse, and regret, when votes from Bridgeport electors or a judicial panel are in need. This disorder the mayor suffers from is compulsive lying as opposed to a “syndrome of disconnect.”

The mayor’s failure to take serious disciplinary action with supporters involved in voting irregularities in two Democratic primaries and his attempt to deflect from his own culpability raise concern. Despite being aware of their actions in prior campaigns, he allowed them to be part of his recent campaign, maintain employment at City Hall, and maintain a Vice Chair leadership position in his Democratic Town Committee. It has been eighty days and counting of paid leave with benefits for Wanda Geter-Pataky; a woman who asserted her right against self-incrimination seventy-one times during the civil trial. Is this taking ownership and holding bad election actors accountable? In the mayor’s recent call for my campaign to admit culpability in the ballot scandal, the mayor omits critical details from the civil trial. There were opportunities during the court hearing for the city and the mayor to call additional witnesses and the attorneys for the city declined. The City defendants could have introduced any relevant video and chose not to do so during the court hearing. In fact, they withdrew their defense that the Gomes campaign committed misconduct and did not raise it in any post-trial briefing. When given the opportunity to respond, the mayor declined.

In the mayor’s recent proposal to embed staffers from the CT Secretary of the State in each campaign, the mayor and city attorneys declined to include this provision during negotiations for a new primary date. After Judge Clark’s order, the Gomes campaign, and the city of Bridgeport through its legal team, submitted proposals. These proposals now form the framework and for the new primary which include guardrails to prevent ballot harvesting.

In response to Ganim’s letter, a spokesperson for CT Secretary of the State stated, “The role of the Office of the Secretary of the State is to administer elections, not supervise campaign staff or candidates…It is both impractical and financially unfeasible, and the taxpayers of Connecticut have already spent too much for election oversight in one municipality. If Ganim is serious about his responsibility for the actions of his campaign staff, he should hire someone to educate and supervise those who work under his name to ensure they are acting according to the letter of the law.”

The mayor had opportunities to engage with state election officials if he had concerns regarding election irregularities before and after the primary and general election and he has declined on each occasion. My first correspondence to the Secretary of the State submitted one week prior to the primary and several other letters in support of restoration of funding for election monitoring in Bridgeport submitted in the weeks following.

During his “victory” speech on the evening of November 7th, the mayor accused me of being  a vengeful two-time loser and contemplated appealing Judge Clark’s decision. Now on December 5th, the mayor drops the appeal threat and admits ownership of absentee ballot abuses while denying knowledge of actions. What could have provoked this sudden change attitude… the prospect of yet another apology media tour with the intention of winning the hearts and minds of the Bridgeport electorate.

How many scandals does this mayor need to take accountability for during the past eight years, a rigged police chief examination in 2018 , questionable personal real estate purchases that resulted in a sixty percent tax reduction, repeated zoning violations and failure to obtain permits, and a backlog of Freedom of Information requests that continues to pile up. Will the mayor ever take ownership of these ethical failures?

How many second chances does this mayor need to re-connect with Bridgeport residents? Connecticut judges, the bar examining committee, the Office of the Secretary of the State, and Bridgeport voters recognize a contrived apology when they hear it.

John Gomes
Candidate for Bridgeport Mayor