(Clarification Nov. 7: The headline was changed to reflect that the candidate was running on the Republican ticket; his technical affiliation is irrelevant to the thrust of the story)
NORWALK, Conn. – A Democratic South Norwalk Councilman seeking re-election Tuesday on the Republican ticket resorted to robocalls that referred to the arrest records of his opponents. He lost the election by a wide margin.
Michael Geake, a Democrat who has been caucusing with the Republicans, described the telephone messages he sent out about Democrats Travis Simms and Phaedrel “Faye” Bowman were “very caustic.”
“I spent the weekend sending out 3,600 robocalls,” he said Tuesday. “… They threatened me with a lawsuit – slander, libel, defamation of character – because I truthfully pointed out that she has two arrests to her credit. I called my lawyer first thing Monday morning and she laughed. She said let them. She said if they sue, first, the truth is an absolute defense. Second, she’s a public official you got to prove actual malice. So let them.”
Geake offered on Tuesday to send the robocalls to NancyOnNorwalk. That offer was accepted, but none have arrived. Geake did not respond to an email.
Simms, standing outside the poll Tuesday near Geake at Columbus Elementary School, said the phone calls turned voters off.
“If he has to resort to taking stabs like that to try and get some notoriety so be it, but it came back to haunt him because we had several constituents come up today and say ‘Who’s Michael Geake?’ They went up and told him ‘I don’t appreciate you sending these robocalls to me. Even if I was voting for you you lost my vote.’ Without us having to do anything or say anything it came back and haunted him.”
Geake said there were four messages, targeted to specific voters. Simms said, “He was making false accusations that I have been arrested three times for assaulting my family, which is totally not true. He said Faye Bowman had two DUI’s, which is not true. He went on this rant about Amanda Brown when she’s not in the election.”
Geake is a new board member at Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON). NancyOnNorwalk called him Wednesday night about that situation.
Geake’s voice mail message was still playing an election message. His voice said that Simms had been “arrested three times for violent acts against his family” and Faye Bowman “has two alcohol-related arrests to her credit.”
There is nothing listed for Bowman on the Connecticut Judicial Branch website. A Google search turned up nothing.
Simms was arrested in April 2010 and charged with assault, reckless endangerment and threatening after he allegedly punched his twin brother in the face after they got into a fight, USA Today reports. His brother, Tarvis was also arrested and charged in the incident. Both brothers were professional boxers. There is nothing on the state website about that incident.
Simms was arrested Aug. 19, 2012, and charged with breach of peace second degree and interfering with an officer, according to the state website. That incident involved a close relative, according to the Stamford Advocate, but Simms was trying to help that relative, who had been arrested, the Advocate said. Simms was talking to that relative, who was seated in a Norwalk Police patrol car. Officers told him to leave but Simms challenged them, eventually yelling at the officers from across the street, the Advocate reports. When officers attempted to handcuff Simms he resisted, according to the account.
A jury trial is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 21 on that charge. Simms also has a court date at 10 a.m. on the 21st for an infraction involving traffic control signals on Dec. 14, 2012, the judicial website says.
Geake’s voice mail also touts his record.
“I served South Norwalk for a decade, first as a second district taxing commissioner, now as a Common Council member,” he said. “I am proud of my record. This term I chaired a committee that brought Norwalk its first-ever blight ordinance so absentee landlords will have to maintain their properties just like the rest of us. So please get out and vote on Tuesday and vote for me and Frank Verdone on Line 8 because character does matter.”
Geake was elected in 2011 on the Democratic ticket, but left the party and was unaffiliated after the Democratic Town Committee bumped his wife, Mary Geake, from its roster. Geake joined the Republican caucus, taking the elected majority away from the Democrats. Geake rejoined the Democratic Party prior to the mayoral primary, then accepted a Republican invitation to run for a district seat on their slate.
Simms got 1,141 votes in the heavily Democratic district. Bowman got 1,023. Geake got 404.
“I don’t get this guy,” Simms said Tuesday. “I don’t know what is his ultimate goal. Last time I checked politics is ran on what you have done as a council person or what you have done in the city prior to being on the council. I don’t think your personal life has anything to do with you running for Common Council, running for any political office here in this city.”