The State Elections Enforcement Commission Wednesday sought a criminal investigation of state Rep. Christina Ayala, D-Bridgeport, after saying that it had uncovered evidence that she had used a false address to register to vote — and used that false registration to vote in nine primaries or elections and run for office twice. In that second run last year, she won the General Assembly seat that she now holds.
The elections panel referred the findings of ts 10-month investigation of Ayala to the office of Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane for investigation of whether she had committed a number of offenses, including: fraudulently voting in an election or primary in which she was not qualified to vote; fraudulently “procuring herself to be an elector”; making a false statement on three voter registration forms and on an election enforcement commission form with the intent “to mislead a public servant”; and fabricating physical evidence.
The investigation found evidence that Ayala falsely registered to vote at 604 Noble Ave., Bridgeport, in July 2009 “and remained registered at this address until January 2013, after the initiation of this investigation,” elections enforcement commission staff attorney Kevin Ahearn said at the commission’s meeting in Hartford Wednesday.
The commission’s referral of Ayala’s case for a criminal investigation prompted Democratic House Speaker Brandan Sharkey to remove the freshman representative from membership on the three legislative committees to which she had been assigned: Appropriations, Housing and Children.
Sharkey said in a statement: “For an elected official, maintaining the public trust is paramount. The fact that this case has moved to a different level calls into question whether that trust has been breached. Until this matter is resolved, I have relieved Representative Ayala of her membership from her assigned legislative committees.”
Wednesday’s referral has nothing to do with other legal problems that have put Ayala in the headlines, including her arrest in what police described as a hit-and-run traffic accident in August of 2012.
Ahearn said Wednesday that the election enforcement panel’s investigation also found that Ayala’s mother, Bridgeport Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala, “knew of and may have cooperated in Representative Ayala’s fraudulent activity.”
As a result, the election enforcement panel also is seeking to have Kane’s office investigate whether Santa Ayala should be charged with “criminal negligence and/or fraud in the performance of her duties as a registrar of voters” as well as criminal conspiracy.