MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) –
A longtime Connecticut state representative may be getting some votes from his children.
Most times, that wouldn’t be an issue, but in this case, it may be against the law.
The state is investigating claims that all four children, who use their father’s Middletown address, don’t live in Middletown and haven’t for years.
State Rep. Joseph Serra has been serving District 33 since 1992, but recently his campaign has come under scrutiny, asking why his four children are still using their parents’ Randolph Road address to vote absentee when they haven’t been living in Connecticut for years.
“I just want a fair election. Joe Serra is not going to let that happen,” said Republican Linda Szynkowicz, who is Serra’s challenger.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, residency for voting purposes is established by where you live and, if you’re away, if you intend to return.
In Serra’s case, two of his children live in New York, one in Massachusetts. Another is in Santa Monica, California.
Serra said even though one of his daughters has been away for years, “her intent is to come back. According to the law, what I understand, is that they have the right to do that.”
The Eyewitness News I-Team also discovered Serra used his daughter’s donation to qualify for public funding for his campaign in 2014. It came via the Citizens’ Election Program. To prevent just any candidate from cashing in, under the rules, candidates need to obtain 150 donations, between $5 and $100 that equal or surpass $5,000, to show they have “adequate” public support.
Records show his daughter Lauriann, who works at Ogilvy Advertising in New York, donated $10.
“I didn’t want it. She said, ‘dad, you know, it’s part of the family’,” Serra said.
Szynkowicz took these concerns to the state Elections Enforcement Commission when she lost to Serra in 2014.
An investigation was opened, and two years later, its still open and nothing has changed.
The I-Team found Serra’s four children, Joseph Jr., Lauriann, Lisa, and Steven all on the voter rolls, still, claiming Middletown is their home.
Records show three of the children last voted absentee, in 2014.
“You would think if you’re under investigation for doing something you know is voter fraud, you wouldn’t still be registered in the town that you know you don’t live,” Szynkowicz said.
Serra said Szynkowicz is just upset because she lost in 2014.
In the 2014, Serra beat Szynkowicz by more than 1,300 votes. In fact, Eyewitness News couldn’t find one election where District 33 had been decided by less than 1,000 votes.
“It’s up to my children, they can decide what they want to do,” Serra said.
Serra said he’s spoken with his children and they’ve been interviewed by the State’s Election Enforcement Commission.
“I don’t know what the law is. As I said, the complaint is up there. It’s been there for two years, it hasn’t been decided yet. We’re waiting and we’ll abide by whatever, not me, but my children will abide by it. They’re adults,” Serra said.
The Election Enforcement Commission declined to go on camera, but said they’re inundated with cases…more than 200, and only have three people to investigate them.
As for voting absentee for an extended period of time, the Secretary of State’s office said it’s not frowned upon and the law is written to accommodate the voter.