HARTFORD, CT — Convicted by a federal grand jury in 2003 on racketeering, extortion, bribery and mail fraud charges, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim— who made a successful political comeback in 2015 when he won re-election—is contemplating higher office.
But due to his conviction, Ganim can’t use the Citizens Election Program, which gives candidates money who meet certain requirements.
That’s why Ganim is asking state election regulators if they might consider allowing him to participate in the program.
“I want to be clear that I have not decided to seek statewide office, but it is something I am considering,” Ganim said in a statement. “If I do seek statewide office, I am absolutely committed to transparency and clean elections, and I would want to participate in the program.”
In a petition sent Friday to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Ganim through his attorney, Arnold Skretta, asked the commission to reconsider.
“Simply stated, Mr. Ganim is looking for the same equal opportunity, if he should decide to seek state elected office, to participate in the clean and fair public financing system that has transformed Connecticut’s elections for the better,” Skretta wrote.
In 2010, after serving six years in prison, Ganim was released. He has restored his voting rights and renewed his status as an elector. In 2015 he was re-elected mayor of Bridgeport.
Skretta argued that due to the efficacy of the program not to participate is a “heavy burden on one’s candidacy for state office,” Skretta wrote.
Not being allowed to participate would be disproportionately impact Ganim and possible violate the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. and Connecticut Constitutions, Skretta opined.
He said donors are wary of candidates who don’t participate in the program and could make it even more difficult to raise the funds necessary to compete, which then becomes a First Amendment argument.
“As I read it, this statute potentially creates an illogical system whereby, although I am currently the Mayor of Connecticut’s largest city, and can run for an be elected to the highest offices in state government, this law appears to preclude me from participation in Connecticut’s clean election law program,” Ganim said. “This law, if so applied, could have the effect of distorting the democratic process.”
The petition will appear on the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s April 19 agenda.