“Oh, You’re Lisa Hopkins!”
by Paul Bass | Nov 18, 2009 12:43 pm
Posted to: Dixwell
A story changed in Dixwell’s absentee-ballot brouhaha. Watch Katie Williams’ new version.
Williams is a 79-year-old retired nurse’s assistant living in the Monterey Homes senior complex on Webster Street.
She is also at the center of an absentee ballot controversy that has drawn the attention of the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
That displeases her.
By Williams’ own account, she has trouble remembering details—especially when it comes to voting and ballots. As the SEEC begins investigating what happened in the Nov. 3 election for alderman in Ward 22, it may find that asking Williams to recall those details proves a confusing quest.
It sure proved confusing on Tuesday.
That’s when the Independent visited Williams at Monterey Homes to ask her about an affidavit she signed on behalf of Alderman Greg Morehead. The affidavit alleges that Morehead’s opponent in the election broke the law and took a signed, unsealed absentee ballot from Williams.
Williams tried to recall the events described in that affidavit, which she didn’t write herself. (Click on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch her tell her story.) She contradicted some of the facts claimed in the affidavit. Other key facts she confirmed, then contradicted, then pleaded hopeless confusion about.
Like, for instance, the role of Lisa Hopkins, the aldermanic challenger against whom Greg Morehead filed the SEEC complaint.
In the affidavit Katie Williams signed, she states that Lisa Hopkins came to her apartment and personally took her unsealed absentee ballot.
On Tuesday, Hopkins—who claimed she had never met Williams before—agreed to accompany the Independent to visit Williams. Williams didn’t recognize Hopkins when Hopkins entered the room. After Williams told her story, she was introduced to Hopkins.
“Oh!” she said. “You’re Lisa Hopkins!”
Allegation 1: Hopkins’ Role
Greg Morehead and Lisa Hopkins run against each other for alderman in Dixwell as often as Yale and Harvard go head-to-head in football—four times in the last four years, including twice this fall. Morehead defeated Hopkins in a September Democratic primary. Then Hopkins ran a write-in campaign as an independent in the Nov. 3 general election. Morehead beat her decisively at the polls, 215-87. But Hopkins collected a lot of absentee ballots. By the time those were counted, Morehead still won, but the tally had narrowed to 237-194. Morehead subsequently filed the complaint with the state, alleging that Hopkins had engaged in absentee ballot fraud. (Read about that here.)
Morehead gave one specific alleged example in his complaint: a handwritten affidavit that Katie Williams signed.
Click here to view the affidavit.
In the affidavit, Williams stated that two people from the Lisa Hopkins campaign, a man and a woman, came to her apartment to ask if she had received her absentee ballot for the general election. She said no. Then the ballot arrived. “Those same people” returned to her door and told her to “sign the ballot” and leave it unsealed, the affidavit alleged. She complied and gave them the ballot, the affidavit alleged.
“I later found out,” the statement reads, that one of the two “was indeed Lisa Hopkins.”
Williams was shown a copy of the statement during the visit Tuesday. She looked it over, for quite a while. A perplexed look descended on her face.
“I question this,” she said. She said it several times.
She said she did sign the statement. She said someone else wrote it.
She said Alderman Morehead brought it to her, read it, and asked her to sign it.
“I told him, I don’t remember things too well. I really don’t. He read it to me. He told me what he had written.”
One fact she repeatedly insisted is true: that she had never met Lisa Hopkins before Tuesday, that Lisa Hopkins had not been at her door that day to collect her ballot. She said Morehead asked her if Hopkins had been present, and she said perhaps.
Allegation 2: The Unsealed Ballot
The other main allegation in Morehead’s complaint proved murkier to confirm or deny: whether someone from the Hopkins campaign had broken the law by having her sign but not fill out the ballot and taking it from her unsealed.
Williams (pictured) said her next-door neighbor was the man who originally visited her and took the ballot. That neighbor, Edward Quick, is a volunteer for Hopkins. He, too, came to the interview Tuesday, and she recognized him.
At one point in the interview, Williams told the story the way the affidavit told it. At another point, she said he had indeed filled out the ballot, for “I guess, Lisa whatever she is.” Finally, she said, she just doesn’t remember.
Lisa Hopkins, who calls Morehead’s elections complaint a “witch hunt” based on false stories, said she has no knowledge of what transpired in Katie Williams’ apartment. She said she doesn’t know who the woman was who accompanied volunteer Edward Quick to visit Williams and discuss the ballot. Both Williams and Quick described the woman as being in her mid-20s.
Absentee ballots are prizes in Ward 22. Voting turnout is low. And the ward has two large senior housing developments, the one at Monterey Homes and the Edith B. Johnson complex. Hopkins said she has avoided the senior complex at Monterey in past elections because she couldn’t gain access, but that this time she had identified some sympathetic seniors to help her, including Quick.
Quick, for his part, claimed that he has no idea, either, who the affidavit’s unnamed woman was. He also said that he wasn’t the one who returned to Williams’ apartment and picked up the ballot. He said the woman—whoever she is—must have done that.
An In-Person Vote
Katie Williams does remember two subsequent visits from Greg Morehead and a campaign aide.
The first came on an evening right before the Nov. 3 election. She remembered telling Morehead she had already voted absentee, but that she was confused. She was worried that she might “get in trouble” for voting for “two aldermen”—Morehead, in the September primary, then Hopkins, by absentee for the general. She was confused about whether there were two separate elections or one, she said.
At that point, she asked Morehead for advice, she said. Morehead told her to go to the polls the morning of Nov. 3, explain her confusion, and ask to vote there and have her absentee ballot nullified.
Williams said she did that. She said went to the polls and pulled the lever—for Morehead.
Records on file at the City Clerk’s Office confirm that Williams voted by absentee, then showed up at the polls on Nov. 3. Her vote at the polls counted. Her absentee ballot did not. The public is not allowed to examine absentee ballots to see whose name is marked off.
Beyond the question of Lisa Hopkins’ identity, Morehead tells a similar version of events to Williams’—with an important difference.
He agreed that he had visited Williams. He agreed that she was confused about whether her vote will count. He agreed that he advised her to go to the polls to straighten out; he said his campaign offered her a ride.
But, Morehead said, Williams positively identified Lisa Hopkins as the woman who took her absentee ballot. Morehead said he had shown Williams campaign literature photos of Hopkins and another candidate, Cordelia Thorpe. He said Williams positively identified Hopkins.
He also said he went over her story in detail before drawing up the affidavit. He said he had conducted a similar interview with another elderly woman who voted absentee. He chose not to draw up an affidavit for the other woman.
“I know it wouldn’t stand up when it was investigated,” Morehead said. “But [Katie] Williams was more credible. That’s why I went ahead with her to submit her affidavit. She told me, like I said, that Lisa came over and she met her through her neighbor. And she [Lisa] came back on another day and said she was here to get her absentee ballot.
“I wouldn’t have done it if I wasn’t sure of everything. She was like, ‘I signed it, but I didn’t fill in any bubbles.’”
Morehead said he showed her a sample absentee ballot and walked her through the steps of filling it out, and she told him, “I left it blank. They told me to leave it blank.”
As it seeks to get to the bottom of the Ward 22 election controversy, the state has some memory-revival challenges before it.
Meanwhile, Katie Williams has made a decision. In the future, she will not vote in aldermanic elections. She plans to vote for president and vice-president. That’s it.
Her reason: “I don’t like junk. I don’t go for junk. Never did. Wasn’t raised up with junk.”
Post a Comment
What do you have to say now? As I stated earlier, Morehead is abusing this lady by putting her in the middle of this. Even more, he has permanently turned her off to voting. What a disgrace. ...
I repeat what I said in an earlier post.
What is the difference between your opponent’s “alleged” abuse of this lady, or yours. She is probably so confused by all this I would be surprised if her testimony was even considered by the state investigators. I’m tired of all you “well meaning” people taking advantage of these older people.
Anything for a Vote,
So if an elderly woman gets her purse snatched, is too disoriented to know who did it, it’s wrong for someone to try to help her find out and have justice done?
You can’t go up to the first guy walking or running down the street and accuse him of snatching the purse. You need REAL PROOF, not manufactured evidence.
This approach to journalism concerns me. Absentee voter falsification is a felony. People who engage in it are felons. In this case, the allegation is that two people went to meet with Mrs. Williams and basically used the fact that she is older to intimidate her into giving them a blank but signed ballot.
Paul Bass then took the people alleged to have committed the crime back to this woman’s home. Take any other crime involving intimidation. Would it be appropriate for Paul Bass to have taken the alleged perpetrators to the person’s home and asked for verification that they were indeed the criminals involved?
If the allegation is one of intimidation, then does it prove anything to demonstrate that these same two people could come back to the apartment and get the same woman to say and do whatever they wanted.
Really Mr. Bass, this seems inappropriate. Why did you bring these people with you? Why not bring a photo, or ask whether Mrs. Williams stood by her claim.
If this was a mugging, would the Independent ask the person who got mugged to stand in front of the alleged muggers and confirm that they did in fact do the mugging? If in the hypothetical mugging case a senior citizen then got confused and said she was unsure about certain facts, would that be clever journalism or providing the opportunity for muggers to intimidate a witness?
I don’t care who is right in this case. I actually hope that no crime was committed because that would mean that our elections are clean. If a crime was committed then I hope that gets investigated and uncovered.
But this is awful journalism. And to some extent I wonder if Mr. Bass created the opportunity for someone trying to protect her right to vote to be scared into shutting up.
The state has investigators to look into absentee ballot fraud. I doubt seriously they will start their investigation by putting Mrs. Williams in the same room with Ms. Hopkins and making Ms. Williams retell her story. And I doubt seriously that this approach is taught in any journalism school.
How can you explain this behavior? What was the point of this?
Wouldn’t it have been possible to get a clear story without any risk of intimidation by just interviewing all parties involved separately?
It isn’t wrong but it is awfully suspect that in trying to help the person who gets suggested to her just happens to be the opponent of this Alderman. Let’s remember that the way this story is playing out he went looking for her she didn’t come to him with a complaint. Seems a bit fishy.
Lisa Hopkins is a my friend. She has respect for herself and others. I have found her to be a loving and caring person. Why someone would use her identity on a senior citizen, to gain a vote is beyond me. I know she wouldn’t do that to anyone. Mr. Morehead is accusing her of such a thing, without knowing for sure, speaks for his integrity….
I am in complete agreement with the poster ‘Concerned’ above. Is the NHI going to continue this questionable practice with other alleged crimes taking place in New Haven? I would hope you would never consider bringing the victim and the victimizer face to face in your own little journalism ‘court,’ but that’s essentially what you’ve done here. Please re-consider your actions. Have you never heard of witness tampering and interfering with an investigation? This is astounding.
It’s funny you call if bad journalism considering that if it had been in a court of law, the accused has the right to know who their accuser is. And if you are sure of what you know or who committed a crime against you, then there’s no need to be afraid of facing that person. You hold your ground. In the video interview it is clearly obvious that this poor woman was confused and cannot possibly provide a reliable account of what took place. It is quite possible the unknown woman in her 20s might have been someone froms Greg’s campaign posing. This could quite possibly have all been a setup and if it was then shame on you Greg!
Come on, do you folks think that Paul brought Lisa to this woman’s house without first asking her permission. And, by the way, the lady clearly states that Lisa WAS NOT the victimizer. The only victimizer here was Mr. Morehead.
That being said, it probably may have been more prudent to not bring these people together during an ongoing investigation. It would have been better for Lisa for the state folks to do so.
Well done…. Do not pay attention to the negative people. You did a wonderful job for our neighbor Lisa Hopkins, clearing her name from alleged fraud before even the State could do anything.
You said, it looks like Greg has a bit more than “one confused voter. Now what? Who took the advantage of a confused elderly? Now you say you are tired of people taking advantage of elderly. Who manipulated the confused lady but not raised on junk as she claims but became a junk in the hands of Morehead. ..
Do you have any legal suggestion now for enlightening Ms. Williams, a retired nurse.
My heart goes out to Katie Williams. There is no shame in getting confused and it is sad she has been put in the middle of this mess. What’s worse is Greg using her this way. Based on this story, he should consider withdrawing his complaint and apologizing.
As for the quality of journalism - it’s great. As a former reporter in both print and television for nearly 10 years, I can tell you this is how it’s supposed to be done. You don’t sit back and wait on something to happen. You seek the truth wherever it is found and you protect the public’s right to know. Excellent work.
posted by: Bruce on November 18, 2009 10:01pm
For anyone who has been involved with local campaigns, this sort of voter harassment is standard practice in New Haven. They find out exactly when the absentee ballots go out in the mail, then they follow the mail truck and show up to harass the voters. It’s like dogs following a meat truck. Pathetic.
How about just stating your case and letting the voter worry about casting the ballot?
Yes, elections are a zero sum thing. That doesn’t mean that incidences of malfeasance shouldn’t be investigated and ruled on at the end of the day. Note that I’m not calling for Hopkins to be thrown in jail. I’m just saying that it’s ridiculous to dismiss these allegations out of hand.
In fact, who else can we expect to bring election law violations to light? Indeed, most violations are brought to light by the candidate opposing the violator! An allegation is not false simply because the person making it stands to gain by its being upheld! If we start taking that view, how do we expect our laws to be enforced?
Now, again, I’m not saying that Hopkins is definitively guilty, or that she’s innocent. What I’m saying is that the complaint shouldn’t be immediately dismissed by the person making it. I’ve heard that on election night, Lisa Hopkins was standing at the polls screaming that she was going to file a voter fraud complaing. If she’d followed through and done something similar, would you all be on here trashing HER and accusing HER of misusing the election complaint system for her personal gain?
First off, I did NOT use anyone for a vote nor for a story. I didn’t go to Ms Williams and try to set this up, like I stated before, she called me.
Some of you with this article thanked Paul for clearing things up, but, Paul is not the one doing the investigation. The state has the last say and I know that there will be things uncovered that were done underhandedly in regards to my opponents campaign. Ms Williams was one person that called me, but there were others that did not even sign up for a ballot, nor filled out an application that mentioned that to me during my campaigning. To say I probably set this up is absurd. I will hold onto the fact that the absentee ballots were manipulated and that is what will be uncovered. For those of you that speak negative on my reasoning for launching an investigation, thats your opinion. I would be just like everyone else and condone the wrong being committed if it wasn’t exposed. So I’m wrong for trying to find out the truth? You just don’t see it. How can a person have 39 AB ballots as a candidate on the ballot, and then go to having 107 in less than 2 months while being a write in? All 107 people knew how to properly fill out the ballot with my opponents name in a Ward that has NEVER seen a write in candidacy or has ever been properly educated on how to effectively vote write in…
Wake up people!
If that was me that went from 39 to 107, WTNH, Fox, CNN and CTV would’ve been asking me all types of questions on the record as to how I turned out so many AB’s! Come on
Respectfully submitted with my eyes wide open,
Alderman Greg Morehead
What a disgrace! Morehead put this elderly woman in the middle of his personal political vendetta against his opponent. He owes a public apology to Ms. Williams, Hopkins, and the public for wasting taxpayer money and time in his baseless complaint. Moreover, the City should demand his resignation from his alderman seat.
So that there is no confusion.
Nothing wrong with Paul Bass contacting all parties and getting their side of the story.
There is something wrong with bringing the accused into the home of a senior citizen and making the senior citizen retell the story in front of the accused.
Doing the latter does not get you an honest retelling of events. It gets you the retelling of events with an alleged felon, who allegedly intimidated that same senior citizen, having the opportunity to make clear that the alleged felon can get to the senior citizen in her home any time she likes.
That is not acceptable behavior for a journalist or anyone else.
For someone saying that this is standard practice in a court of law—what’s the relevance to my point? Of course in America you get to face your accuser in a court of law. But that does not mean you get to follow your accuser home and face them there. Quite the opposite, that would be considered an attempt to intimidate a witness which would be an additional felony act.
In a court of law, there are strong safeguards including armed guards and strict punishments for anyone who would try to intimidate a witness. Which of these did Paul Bass bring with him?
Paul Bass could have gotten his story with a much greater likelihood of accuracy if he had not put the people together in the same room. If in fact Ms. Williams was intimidated and her ballot was taken, Paul Bass has now effectively undermined that case without actually introducing a single new fact.
If Paul Bass had gone to see Ms. Williams alone and she told him that she did not know Ms. Hopkins, then he has a story which undercuts the charges against Ms. Hopkins. Or if Paul Bass went door to door and found not a single other absentee ballot filer who was intimidated, he could have said that this did not appear to be a common occurrence based on conversations with a dozen absentee ballot filers. Instead he has proven nothing but almost certainly undermined any case against Ms. Hopkins or any of her volunteers if any of them are in fact guilty.
Hopefully that clears my point up.
There is a system problem here.
This election should be investigated because of the unusually large number of absentee ballots. The investigation should be done by a law enforcement agency and should not require the involvement of any complaint by one of the parties to the election. We really need to overhaul the supervision of elections in this country, and separate politics from law enforcement.
MS. Williams may not be a reliable witness, but an investigation is still needed.
The fact that Ms. Hopkins innocence or guilt is being questioned WITHOUT any REAL proof IS the problem. Her credibility has been questioned, and that cloud will never be completely removed.
“I’ve heard that on election night, Lisa Hopkins was standing at the polls screaming that she was going to file a voter fraud complaing. If she’d followed through and done something similar, would you all be on here trashing HER and accusing HER of misusing the election complaint system for her personal gain?”
You heard that Lisa was screaming? Come on, you are going to resort to that age old stereotype of the crazy black woman screaming out of control? You can do better than that I hope.
To your question above, if she had filed a complaint without any evidence, yes I would be trashing her every bit as bad as Morehead.
So what if her count went from 39 to 107. All that means is that her campaign worked harder to ID voters who needed ABs, it does not mean that she cheated. Your unsubstantiated accusations are disgraceful.
I wonder why this publication does not publish my comments!
Concerned: You’re right it would be wrong to take a felon to a victim’s house but thankfully Lisa is not one. And if you read the story or paid attention to the video, Hopkins went along with NH Independent and Ms. Williams did not recognize her. Don’t you think someone who has been victimized would recognize the perpetrator?
Greg: You dismiss the idea that this could be a setup by your campaign. So now we should all just take your word for it but when it comes to Hopkins just condemn her right? And your theory about the absentee ballots increase makes no sense. In two months it can’t possibly have gone up because you said so? It’s called perseverance and if someone works hard enough anything is possible. You’re just trying to tarnish her good name considering in the primary you won by only 8 votes.
posted by: voter on November 19, 2009 4:02pm
... This investigation was based on Williams statement. Morehead was decisive in reaching out to every newspaper with his allegations and his evidence. The basis for his complaint has fallen apart in mid-air and yet he has switched gears and shifted the basis of this investigation to the voters in his ward lacking the intelligence to know how to fill out a ballot for a write in candidate.
What Next…City Hall it may be time to fold em!
I really feel sorry for Ms. Williams. This well meaning senior citizen has found herself in the middle of this political tussle and she’s not equipped for that pressure, as few people are. I would have been more comfortable letting the state Elections officials do a proper investigation behind closed doors in a more comfortable setting. I think, unfortunately, that interviewing her on tape with one of the principal parties in her own home was very overwhelming and threatening to this frail senior. No wonder she sees all of this as just a big hassle and won’t vote again. Though I know all intentions were good, I think we’ll never know what happened with her ballot now.
The tactic used by the Independent is offensive and flat out wrong. This is the kind of thing that thugs do - go into vulnerable communities to intimidate residents in order to get a desired outcome. I once again question the moral compass of this paper.
posted by: Bruce on November 20, 2009 2:58pm
I can’t understand the focus on the NHI’s conduct in getting this story. This is what investigative journalism is all about. They interviewed the subjects and, even more, got two factions involved in a dispute to talk face to face and tell their story. What is wrong with that? Who are they bullying. AWFUL- what is the “desired outcome”?
Good job, NHI. This is what you’re supposed to do.
I join the people that express surprise and disappointment at the NHI tactics in chasing this story. This is exploitative of Ms. Williams and is no more defensible than the Jerry Springer and Maury Povich “journalism”. This woman never asked to be thrust into this mess. All she wanted to do was cast her vote, like everyone else. She now finds herself being held up to ridicule for having signed a statement that put someone else’s words into her mouth. Greg—all I can say is “the only thing worse than a sore loser, is a sore winner”.
The story is important but I can hear Lisa telling the woman that Greg manipulated her in the background….. that does make me wonder. I don’t think it’s as bad as the other commentators are saying, but I think that was a faux pas on the part of the NHI. Should have just gone in with a reporter & a picture of Ms Hopkins.
Listen to it and jack up the volume—in the background Lisa is clearly telling the woman things while Paul asks her questions.
Yuk…I’m getting the same uncomfortable feeling of subtle exploitation that I got when I read about the Brian McGrath/Vito incident.
posted by: Voter on November 25, 2009 4:25pm
Streever and other Morehead supporters, your undying loyalty to this guy has you willing to condone and excuse his underhanded tactics to get SEEC to investigate one of his opponents. It is no mystery to anyone that Hopkins was present during this interview. If you listen real close and turn the volume up you can hear Williams being ask about the tactics Morehead used to get the statement and Hopkins expressed her disappointment in using Williams in this way.
I commend her for keeping a cool head and focusing on revealing the truth behind the allegations that have been launched against her. Ms. Williams openly admitted that she never approached Morehead; he found her. Williams openly admitted that Morehead crafted the entire complaint in his own words and was adament in identifying his key opponent as the perpetrator. (photo and all)
The irony is that Williams complaint has been exposed by NHI as a manipipulative attempt to discredit Hopkins and present this idea that voters in this ward are perhaps not intelligent enough to write in a candidate or understand the purpose of an absentee ballot.
*Ward 22 has had a write in candidate before her name was Maola Riddic. I believe she was unsucessful because the lever system was much more difficult for voters to navigate at that time.
This is not about any voter fraud; this is about Moreheads personal dislike for someone who has held him accountable. Morehead supporters you should be ashamed of yourselves if anything you should at least be willing and able to see the writing on the wall by now.
You should be asking yourselves; what the real purpose of this investigation is or you just don’t give a damn. If it is the latter; maybe you just want Morehead to rule in any desperate way that he can.
The truth will not turn out the way you have pushed for it to be; even with the persuasive commentary and the jabs below the belt regarding the hard evidence on the video and in this article. What do you suggest we do to Morehead for filing a false complaint and using SEEC and their investigative process to settle his own personal scores?
STREEVER: In your own words: “Listen to it and jack up the volume” in the background it’s the television buddy. There is more than one voice, not Lisa’s, unless Lisa also does a male voice?