Gov. Ned Lamont and state lawmakers would like to move on from the Bridgeport court-ordered elections. The Governor recently remarked through a spokesperson that he “is ready to turn the page and looks forward to working with the mayor and the entire Bridgeport delegation to continue to support the city’s bright future.”
There are many reasons why the Governor and most Bridgeport state lawmakers would like to forget the mayoral ballot scandal and not address election reform in the upcoming state legislative session. These are the same people who attended and honored absentee ballot harvester Wanda Geter-Pataky with a community service award at the State Democratic Party Annual Women’s Leadership Award Brunch in 2019.
Besides sharing their love and affinity for Wanda, Lamont and most Bridgeport state representatives and senators share the same political vendor, Park City Consulting LLC that manages the re-election campaign of Joe Ganim. Park City Consulting is co-owned and operated by Tom Gaudett, Deputy CAO and Constance Vickers, the Director of Legislative Affairs for the City of Bridgeport. As city employees they earn an annual salary of $120,000 and $91,000 respectively, not including benefits.
In 2022, Ned For CT, Governor Lamont’s re-election campaign paid Park City Consulting $17,000 for “Get Out the Vote” activities in Bridgeport. Bridgeport State Senator Herron Gaston paid $28,417, State Representative Fred Gee paid $19,413, State Representative Antonio Felipe paid $18,280, State Representative Marcus Brown paid $15,325, State Representative Chris Rosario paid $5,293, State Representative Steve Stafstrom paid $3,000, State Representative Jennifer Leeper paid $2,000, State Representative Andre Baker paid $1,500, State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey paid $400, the Bridgeport DTC paid $6,317, and Jim Himes For Congress paid $11,266 for similar campaign activities.
As of September 2023, Park City Consulting received $140,000 from Ganim for Bridgeport ’23, the campaign committee of Mayor Joe Ganim.
Park City Consulting was mentioned during questioning of Ganim in the civil court trial in October. Ganim claimed there was no evidence, “anyone from his paid campaign staff” had anything to do with ballot fraud. “On my paid staff, there is not a hint or a claim of any of this (ballot fraud).” This statement was of course a lie that the mayor later admitted to in early December in a carefully coordinated public relations campaign to rehabilitate his image with Bridgeport voters. Ganim testified that he was unaware of whether Wanda Geter-Pataky received any money through Park City Consulting. Given that Ganim has lied under oath before in the 2003 federal court trial that resulted in his conviction of corruption charges, why should the public believe Ganim’s statement that Wanda Geter-Pataky was not paid from this firm.
And why should the public believe that any election reform will happen in this legislative session when Lamont and the Bridgeport delegation are paying the vendor operated by city employees who serve under Ganim. None of these legislators want to act on election reform because it will disrupt the one-party machine system that helps keep them in office. Many of these legislators made direct payments to Wanda Geter-Pataky from their political campaigns prior to 2022.
Given the association between Park City Consulting and the Governor’s re-election campaign it is not hard to understand why Lamont would discourage and disenfranchise all registered voters in Bridgeport from participating in a general election. It is embarrassing to endure another court-ordered Bridgeport election taking place during a state legislative session. It is also not hard to understand why the Governor thinks the mayor had nothing to do with ballot fraud when his campaign is paying the same Ganim staffers to get the vote out for his re-election.
Should the public believe the Governor that he would, “like to see the wheels of justice speed up a little bit,” for the city employee, Bridgeport DTC Vice Chair Wanda Geter-Pataky, who has remained on paid administrative leave with benefits for 140 days with no arrest or termination of employment. Will the Governor admit that he is conflicted when he tells the people of Bridgeport to move on from the ballot scandal?
Will the Governor listen to the three superior court judges who have ordered new Democratic primaries within the last six years in Bridgeport? The Connecticut Judicial Branch is sending a not-so-subtle message to the Connecticut Legislative and Executive Branch. Governor Lamont, get a clue and pass substantial election reform law.
John “Jack” F. Hennessy is a former Democratic State Representative, for Bridgeport’s 127th District.