Statement from Joanna Swomley, submitted Sept 25, 2019
In November of 2017, I attended a closed door, private meeting in the Cone Room of Town Hall reserved by Sandy Litvack’s (my husband’s) 2017 campaign for First Selectman.
Earlier this year, Ed Dadakis, a former chair of the Republican Town Committee, posted photographs of me on Twitter, including a photograph of that meeting taken from inside the room.
Upon learning of this surveillance, Selectman Litvack made a motion before the Board of Selectman that an investigation be conducted. Putting aside the gross invasion of privacy and possible crimes, he asserted that the Town should want to know who used misused the Town’s property.
The two Republican Selectman refused to second his motion and it thus failed. The Board of Selectman refused to authorize or seek any type of investigation into the violation of privacy, potential stalking, potential eavesdropping, or even the misuse of Town property that my and other taxpayer dollars support. I filed a complaint with the Greenwich Police Department immediately thereafter.
The Greenwich Police Dept report, which is now available, makes clear that:
• The photograph in question was taken using the video camera(s) mounted on the ceiling in the Cone Room. Those cameras are accessible solely from equipment that exists in a locked recording room.
• In order to obtain the image, someone had to have deliberately turned the cameras on from the locked recording room and “then adjusted [them] by a joystick to get this view.”
• The locked recording room has “very limited access”. It is kept open only for cleaning and if someone using the room needs to use the bathroom. Records of access are kept for only 30 days.
• In order to activate the equipment necessary to record/photograph any portion of the event from inside the Cone Room, someone had to have entered the locked recording room.
• Only three workers had key access to that room. Two lived in Port Chester and had no known political ties. The third was one of the four Republican Constables, John Thompson, on the ballot in 2017.
For reasons detailed in the police report, the police asked John Thompson for a sworn statement. He stated he was retaining counsel and would not provide a sworn statement. In May 2019, the police executed a search warrant for Mr. Thompson’s cell phone obtained based on an affidavit that cited, among other things, that he “was the only personnel that had access to the locked GCTV room on Sept 21, 2017 and had the political motive to take the photographs.”
No photographs of the incident were found. [Of course, the phone was searched over a year and a half after the incident and the event had been reported in the Town newspapers.] Subsequent to the execution of the search warrant, Mr. Thompson’s counsel advised police that no interviews would be permitted “without the promise of prosecutorial immunity for Thompson’s cooperation.”
• There were four individuals whom the Greenwich Police Dept asked to provide sworn statements. Each refused to do so. In addition to Mr. Thomson, elected official Ed Dadakis (RTM Member, District 1), First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectman John Toner each refused to provide a statement made under the penalties of perjury. The State’s Attorney would not grant such immunity at this time.
• During the police investigation Ed Dadakis declined to answer questions by asserting that he was a “reporter” and had a “reporter’s privilege” that allegedly shielded him from having to answer any questions. [Mr. Dadakis, who initially claimed he could not recall how he got the photo, has no known press credentials and his LinkedIn page sets forth his employment as an executive with Aon, a professional services firm. He is also a high profile member, and former head of, the Town Republican Party.]
• The police closed the case “due to lack of physical proof and cooperation.” They did state that “should additional information be gathered, this case will re-open and supplemental reports will be completed.”
The underlying facts set out in the police report are, in my view, damning. They demonstrate a complete circling of the wagons and stonewalling by Republican elected officials and a former party leader that prevented the police from being able to determine who, among other things, misused Town property, invaded my privacy and the privacy of others, and took and disseminated the photo in question. And, while the police found no evidence of an audio or video recording as opposed to the photograph posted to Twitter, to be clear, they also cannot definitively say there were no such recordings. That they found no physical evidence a year and a half later, while disappointing, is not surprising. What is disappointing and surprising is the unwillingness of elected officials to either authorize an investigation or to at least provide sworn statements to assist the investigation conducted by the police.
Their failures to act are an affront to the people who elected them.