The State Elections Enforcement Commission voted Wednesday to seek a criminal investigation of Rep. Christina Ayala, D-Bridgeport, and her mother, the city’s Democratic registrar of voters, Santa Ayala, after finding evidence of a conspiracy to commit voter fraud.
The first-term legislator used a false address to vote in nine primaries and general elections, including the 2012 race in which she was elected to the General Assembly, and she attempted to obstruct the SEEC’s investigation, according to an investigating attorney, Kevin Ahern.
Ahern said Ayala falsely claimed she was living at 603 Noble Ave. in Bridgeport from July 2009 until January 2013, when she entered the General Assembly amid questions about her residency. A police report about a domestic incident listed her residence as a neighborhood in Bridgeport outside her legislative district.
"There is evidence that she ran for elected office twice from this false address during the period, including for the office she currently holds. There is evidence that she also applied for funds from the Citizens’ Election Program using this false address," Ahern told the commissioners. "Additionally, the investigation revealed evidence that Rep. Ayala fabricated evidence in response to this investigation, with the intent of misleading commission staff."
Ahern said the investigation found her mother, Santa Ayala, was aware of the fraud. The commission asked the chief state's attorney to investigate the registrar for "criminal negligence" in the performance of her duties.
Ayala and her mother could not be reached for comment.
But the investigation is expected to renew calls for Christina Ayala to resign. Some of the crimes alleged by the commission are felonies.
House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, immediately stripped Ayala of all committee assignments, leaving her a state legislator with few duties. He has no authority to remove her from the legislature.
“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," Sharkey said. "Until this matter is resolved, I have relieved Representative Ayala of her membership from her assigned legislative committees.”