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Ganim admits campaign workers 'violated the election laws’

Ganim insisted he had no knowledge of their activities until leaked security camera video surfaced.

John Craven

Dec 5, 2023, 11:05 PM

Updated 201 days ago


For the first time, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim is admitting that his campaign workers illegally stuffed absentee ballot boxes. But in a radio interview Tuesday morning, Ganim insisted he had no knowledge of their activities until leaked security camera video surfaced.
Ganim offered a mea culpa of sorts on WICC-AM’s “Lisa Wexler Show.”
“There were people in the campaign that violated the election laws, as the judge clearly saw from evidence,” he said.
Last month, Judge William Clark ordered a new Democratic primary for mayor. In a scathing ruling, he accused Ganim’s supporters of “ballot harvesting.” The case centered on nearly 20 minutes of surveillance footage showing people stuffing ballot drop boxes.
“I’m embarrassed, and I’m sorry with what happened with the campaign,” the mayor told Wexler. “Granted, I had no knowledge of what was going on.”
The State Elections Enforcement Commission is also investigating nearly two dozen complaints related to Bridgeport’s Sept. 12 primary.
Later in the day, Ganim called a news conference – inviting someone from the Secretary of the State’s office to be embedded inside his campaign.
“Inviting her and her offices into our campaign from the beginning of the process, which begins at the end of the month of December, all the way through Election Day,” Ganim told reporters.
In a terse response, election officials said they have no authority to do that.
“The role of the Office of the Secretary of the State is to administer elections, not supervise campaign staff or candidates,” said SOTS spokesperson Tara Chozet. “If Mayor 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 also called for expanded supervised balloting at senior living complexes, where some residents have complained about being pressured to vote for Ganim in exchange for housing vouchers and other favors.
Ganim's opponent, John Gomes, called the mayor’s media tour a last-minute “gimmick.” He said Ganim’s representatives never asked for an embedded election supervisor when both sides were negotiating the terms of the new primary with Clark.
“It's their fault, so fix your house,” Gomes said on Tuesday. “Don’t worry about my campaign.”
Gomes also raised questions about the radio interview, noting that Ganim campaign spokesperson Rowena White works for WICC-AM owner Connoisseur Media. White insisted there was no pre-coordination on the interview, and no questions were off-limits.
Meantime, Gomes is facing his own questions.
Other videos leaked in October appear to show his supporters visiting ballot boxes multiple times. Ganim said SEEC is now investigating, but spokesperson, Joshua Foley, said the commission has not received any complaints about the footage.
“There are clear allegations and incidents on video of the Gomes campaign doing the same thing,” Ganim said. “If we’re going to come clean, we need to come clean. And that means that Gomes needs to come clean.”
Gomes has insisted that everyone in the footage cast legal ballots for relatives.
“If anyone on my side that has done something illegal, file a complaint with the SEEC, as we've done,” he said Tuesday.
Clark set a new Democratic primary for Jan. 23, with a new general election (if needed) on Feb. 27. Absentee ballots will be available on Jan. 2.
The judge ordered an election monitor to oversee balloting, as well as a separate count of ballots cast in drop boxes.

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