State Sen. Dennis Bradley Jr. of Bridgeport and his campaign treasurer, former city school board chairman Jessica Martinez, were charged Tuesday with a conspiracy to cheat the state’s troubled public campaign financing system out of about $180,000.Federal prosecutors said in court Tuesday that by lying about expenditures and other campaign finance issues, Bradley’s senate campaign stole an $84,140 primary campaign grant in 2018 and tried, but failed to steal another $95,710 tax-payer financed campaign grant to run in the general election.
Bradley, a Democrat, won the primary election in 2018 with 55% of the vote and crushed his general election opponent in November with 87%. His Senate district straddles Bridgeport and part of Stratford.
The indictment suggests that Bradley and his campaign staff were knowingly breaking campaign finance laws within weeks of his campaign kickoff. In May 2018, he sent what was intended apparently to be an inspiring text message to Martinez and other staffers, promising that “through our continued faithfulness the brightest day will come.”
An unidentified staffer replied: “Don’t worry Dennis if you go to jail you are a lot cuter than (another convicted Bridgeport politician) — u will be ok and I’ll make sure ur commissary always has enough so you can make toilet wine and mufungo.” [Mufungo is slang for a dish made by prisoners using chips, ramen and rice.]
Connecticut State Senator Dennis Bradley Jr. has been arrested on election fraud charges. He has been a member of the Connecticut State Senate since 2018.
Sen. Bradley Jr., 37, who represents Bridgeport and Stratford, and Bridgeport Board of Education member Jessica Martinez surrendered on federal charges Tuesday to the U.S. Marshals Service in New Haven.
The grand jury has indicted Sen. Bradley Jr. and Martinez on six counts, including one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud.
Sen. Bradley Jr. has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Martinez was Sen. Bradley Jr.’s former campaign treasurer.
These charges center around Sen. Bradley Jr.’s 2018 run for state senate where the defendants defrauded Connecticut’s program for publicly funding political campaigns of more than $175,000, says the CT District Attorney.
Senate President Looney has removed Sen. Bradley Jr. as Senate Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee. He has also removed the senator from his remaining committee assignments.
Senator Cathy Osten of the 19th Senate District has been named acting Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee.
Jessica Martinez has plead not guilty to all eight counts, including:
One count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud
Five counts of wire fraud
One count of false statement
One count of false declaration to grand jury
Both defendants are scheduled for jury selection in the U.S. District Court on August 2.
We reached out to Sen. Bradley for comment but he has not returned our messages.