Norwalk GOP ticket candidate’s robocalls offended some

Norwalk Common Council 081313 025
Norwalk Common Councilman Michael Geake (D-District B).

(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.”


30 responses to “Norwalk GOP ticket candidate’s robocalls offended some”

  1. LWitherspoon

    I believe that part of SoNo is so heavily Democratic that Mr. Geake had zero chance. Has anybody on the Republican ticket ever won that district?
    Bringing up your opponent’s criminal/arrest record is fair game, particularly for violent acts. Kind of ironic that Mayor-elect Rilling was Police Chief of the department that arrested Mr. Simms multiple times. So Rilling went from arresting Simms to endorsing him for office, and now they’ll both be approving the next Police Union contract. Politics do make strange bedfellows.
    I would love to know why the DTC decided that Mr. Simms was the best candidate to represent South Norwalk, in spite of his criminal record.

  2. M Allen

    Private lives should not be used as a tool. However, when your private becomes public due to arrest, it’s no longer private. Whether using that information is useful in an election comes down to whether or not you think the voters care. Some people care about criminal records and the decision making ability of those they elect, some don’t. Some people care about experience, some don’t. The outcome of the vote is what it is.

  3. Independent Voter

    All’s fair in love and war, as they say. Wonder if Travis thinks the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto should stay in office?

  4. M Allen

    Do robocalls work at all? Who is the robocall sales guy that has convinced all these politicians that they have any effect whatsoever? I’ve never even listened to a robocall. Recorded message? Hangup, delete, whatever. Who is the constituency out there that listens to robocalls?

  5. “Some people care about criminal records and the decision making ability of those they elect, some don’t. Some people care about experience, some don’t. ”
    Welcome to South Norwalk

  6. LongTimeDem

    While it may be factually correct to headline this article “Norwalk Dem’s robocalls offended some”, it creates an incorrect impression that the offending calls were made by a candidate on the Democratic ticket, when in fact Mr. Geake was running on the Republican ticket.

    It might be too unwieldy to put it all in context in a headline (it can be difficult to describe in one or two words someone whose history of party affinities seems to have undergone as many switchbacks as a road up a steep mountain), but wouldn’t a fairer headline had read “Robocalls of Candidate on Republican Ticket Offended Some”?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @ LongTimeDem

      Yes, in fact. Thank you.

  7. Nora King


    I served with Travis Simms for two years on the Common Council. I have known him for over five years. He did his homework on the Common Council, was always respectful, listened to other member’s perspectives and always voted with a conscious. He never once- like so many other folks in the political arena – tried to vote for his own purposes when I served with him. This is why he was put forth by the DTC as not only the best candidate but a “great” candidate. He will do an amazing job for us in Norwalk for the next two years. I find it funny how easy it is for people to criticize and not realize how hard it is to serve your community. Now if only his wife Sandra would run for office, she is an amazing person as well.

    I am thrilled that both Faye and Travis are serving our community!

  8. LWitherspoon

    A more factual headline would be “Council Candidates Dispute Robocalls Highlighting Their Criminal Records”, since it doesn’t sound like the writer spoke to or otherwise confirmed the existence of any offended party, apart from the candidates themselves. Also, the bulk of this story is the two sides talking about the charges made in the robocalls.
    In any district where there was not a huge registration advantage for either party, a criminal record like Mr. Simms’s would certainly disqualify him from consideration for a party’s nomination. The same is likely true for Ms. Bowman.
    I remain curious to know what Mr. Simms and Ms. Bowman bring to the table that overrode the existence of their criminal records and their ongoing troubles with the law.

  9. LWitherspoon

    Ms. King,
    Thank you for your service on the Council.
    The qualities you list are all admirable, but I’m sure there are many people in South Norwalk who possess them who don’t have criminal records. Since elected officials are role models, what would have been the harm in running someone else?

  10. M Allen

    Since we are changing the headline to be fully reflective of the facts, why not make it “Some Offended by GOP Robocalls Pointing Out Criminal History of Democratic Candidates” – See how neutral that sounds?
    By the way – I know Travis too. Our paths haven’t crossed in some time, but I know enough to believe he will act in the interest of his community. That may not always be your part of the community, but it is for those he was elected to represent. He’s not perfect and he didn’t come from anything close to perfect circumstances. As with many people, sometimes you’ve got to take the bad with the good. It’s not an endorsement, it’s just a personal observation.

  11. @ LWitherspoon,
    I agree but NoN won’t change it b/c you know their political allegiance….

  12. LWitherspoon

    @Mark Chapman
    Look at this, you now have a veritable army of volunteer headline writers! I hope you will view this as constructive suggestions that are reflective of the popularity of NoN and our shared desire to have more local political coverage in Norwalk. In the past I have been impressed by you and Nancy’s willingness to read our comments, acknowledge when you think we have a valid point, and edit stories accordingly. I’m not aware of any other journalists in Norwalk or nationwide who do this to the extent that you do, which is to your credit.
    I think the Chapmans can be forgiven for favoring Harry Rilling after what they went through with Mayor Moccia. Sometimes bias is in the eye of the beholder – i.e. you know the history between the Mayor and Nancy and so you perceive bias because you’re expecting it. And it’s hard for coverage to appear evenhanded when one side generally refuses to respond to NoN’s inquiries. There were a few times during the past campaign where I felt like blatantly non-neutral word choices were made. Then again, we’re all only human. If you were a journalist, how would you cover someone who tried to have you charged criminally for accidentally recording them, and doing nothing with the tape?
    Whatever the case, we have a new Mayor and hopefully all of that is past. I am cautiously optimistic that NoN will now proceed with shining a light on the Rilling administration, and that elected officials of all parties will respond to their enquiries.

    1. Mark Chapman

      A L Witherspoon

      Thank you, and we hope to be worthy of your defense and your optimism. We are pretty much through answering claims of bias online, because it’s all in the eye of the beholder, and everyone has a right to their opinion. We will continue to contribute to discussions (and correct factual errors) and to make editing changes when called for. This is something that is anathema to most old-line journalists who hold fast to the rules conceived in a print-only world. Today, with the ability to change on the fly and to assess more information from more sources, we should be willing to reconsider points — not every day, not just because somebody doesn’t like the way something is phrased, but because we are wrong or unfair. It happens. It never happened when I was 35. It does now… 🙂 (For the record, your suggested head said GOP robocalls, which was technically incorrect, as Mr. Geake is a registered Dem; and referred to criminal history instead of ALLEGED criminal history. We did not find any reports of convictions, and Mr. Simms is going to trial this month. This is the word-parsing we do on every story, and especially on crime stories.)

  13. ScopeonNorwalk

    Neither candidate has a criminal record. A criminal record relates to convictions. Without a conviction it means the person didn’t break the law. That’s what the courts are for. It seems with African Americans certain people forget that fact.

  14. ScopeonNorwalk

    For everyone including Geake who states these two have a criminal record if you were as smart as you think you are you would know what the definition of a criminal record is…innocent until proven guilty unless you’re black right Witherspoon and Geake. And that’s why Geake is out.

  15. LWitherspoon

    Thank you for that additional information. The article doesn’t mention what happened after the 2010 arrest, and Simms himself didn’t provide any details other than saying it wasn’t true. Why was there no conviction?
    Whether Mr. Simms was arrested twice or three times, convicted or not, his brushes with the law seem a lot more frequent than one might reasonably ascribe to bad luck.

  16. Norwalk Lifer


    “Some people care about criminal records and the decision making ability of those they elect, some don’t. Some people care about experience, some don’t. ”
    Welcome to South Norwalk


    How dare you? do you live here? I got one of those calls and I WAS TURNED OFF BY IT!, I have never been arrested, I pay my taxes and I probably make a helluva lot more money than YOU!


    Welcome to South Norwalk, take a hike!!!!

  17. Diane C2

    @Nora King – thank you for your comments, and ditto on Mr. Simms – I’ve attended many council and committee meetings, and it was refreshing to have him on the Council. Did his homework, asked questions, answered emails, and was always courteous and considerate. Still is. Never dismissive or rude, and never trivialized a resident’s concerns.

  18. @NorwalkLifer,
    Wow, touch a nerve?! Well, I am turned off by people who break the law and get away with it.., that goes for Amanda Brown as well – the big bully who beats the snot out of people …
    The people have spoken (you voted for law challenged reps) and yes, I stand by what I wrote..

    “Some people care about criminal records and the decision making ability of those they elect, some don’t. Some people care about experience, some don’t. ”
    Welcome to South Norwalk”
    Please don’t make any “assumptions” on my income…you know what you are when you make assumptions…
    PS I DON’T live in SoNo so go figure my income based on that…

  19. RU4REAL

    What about the Krummels Irish girl, is it because Amanda is African American you only mention her, sure looks that way. I stopped taking your posting serious some time ago. It is apparent that you just don’t get it and you play favorites. At the very least give these folks an opportunity before you trash them, you make yourself sound ignorant. By the way, the election is OVER, move on with some positive statements, not nasty comments.

  20. M Allen

    Well, let’s be honest here, this entire article was kind of posed to stir certain reactions. White candidate in minority-dominated district points out arrest history of black candidates. I really wonder sometimes if constructive discussion can even take place over articles like this. Was the article necessary? Was it trying to say Mr. Geake did something wrong? I truly hope there wasn’t a racial motive by Mr. Geake, but whenever you have a white guy refer to the arrest record of someone who happens to not be white, the can of worms gets opened. I’m pretty sure if the candidates with the questionable histories were white, the same robocall would have been made. And rightfully so. Some people care about character and it is fair game. But we’ve got to move past the race side of things, we really do. Or just flatly come out and say in this article that they think it was racially motivated. Don’t beat around the bush and let the commenters make the case. Like I said, constructive discussion isn’t going to happen over articles like this.
    And PS RU4REAL – Yeah, the Krummels too. They all should have gone to jail that day for Breach of Peace. That incident wasn’t a one-way street and the constant jawboning that only one side was at fault is wrong.

  21. If positives comments are to be made – there should be something positive going on… but there isn’t. “These folks” are just more of the same old thieving bunch – same lineage. You don’t sound ignorant wanting to believe “these folks” will change a thing – you just make yourself sound brainless.
    PS – oh yeah, Brown showed alot of physical brutality..,.,. she’s a BRUT, A BULLY and is revered by the people of SoNo and Mayor Elect Rilling… goes to show ya…

  22. NorwalkVoter

    he “was always respectful, listened to other member’s perspectives”… as opposed to your service. You were consistently shrill.

  23. Oldtimer

    Interesting, Mr Geake hasn’t found time to send NON the text of the robocalls. Robocalls, regardless of their message, offend a lot of people who hangup rather than listen to the entire message. The messages, in this case, made statements about arrest records, were apparently not accurate, and spreading stories about arrest records where there were no convictions generally offends more people as poorly executed dirty tricks, than it gets votes for the candidate behind the calls. They certainly didn’t do Geake much good.

  24. Norwalk Lifer

    @irishgirl, You impugned a whole community that’s either ignorance or just plain self loathing in my opinion

    Norwalk Lifer

  25. Norwalk Lifer

    So let me get this straight, NON is at fault that Geake decided to robocall and exaggerate.

    Yes, of course, and then the race card gets pulled, this is about people lying folks, and using negative campaigning to get votes.

    His efforts got him 404, and that’s about it,

    I got one of those calls last Saturday, for the record, I am white, and I was pissed off about it. it was a waste of my time to hear this man run thru his diatribe about others.

    If that’s leadership, then those of you who do not live in South Norwalk set the bar too low for those of us in South Norwalk

    Norwalk Lifer

  26. @Norwalk Lifer,
    And yet you do it everytime you write against the GOP party.
    Better still, I didn’t ask your opinion…

  27. kmokeefe

    To all those making derogatory comments about those who take the time and make the effort to serve their community (of whatever party)please explain why you haven’t taken matters into your own hands and stood for election yourself? If you know exactly how to run this city and are so sure of your own righteous life and pure motives that you can castigate others surely the community needs YOU?

  28. Norwalk Lifer

    @Irish girl, unfortunately you live in America, where free speech still reigns free, don’t like the opinions? don’t read them,.

    You impugned an entire community with your first top post, and if I am not a robot for the GOP in this town, with it’s cronyism, lock step mentality, and uniform thinking, too bad.

    I am not going to let those who do not live in South Norwalk disparage the entire community.

    And to Kmokeefe, yes, you are right, a lot of us here have given a lot of time to this community called South Norwalk, personal time, even to the point of our own homes to this community.

    South Norwalk is vibrant, and it’s a better community then many would believe, at least our debates, battles, disagreements are out in the open, instead of covered up by the bedsheets of partisan party affliation.

    Norwalk Lifer

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