State probes Bridgeport school official’s residency

BRIDGEPORT — The tour of Chris Taylor’s apartment started with his small living room, then his bedroom, and ended in the bathroom, where toiletries, including an unopened hand soap, were arranged neatly on the sink.

“I organized it nice for you,” Taylor, 49, a retired contractor, joked with a Hearst Connecticut Media reporter when it was suggested the bathroom seemed almost suspiciously tidy and organized. “Couldn’t be staged better.”

That is the question at the heart of a just-launched state investigation of Taylor. Is the Republican school board member and one-time mayoral candidate’s Bridgeport address — a dormant recycling business at 155 Davenport St. — for show? Or does he really live with his mother in Southport, which would prohibit him from voting and holding elected office in Bridgeport?

That is what Democrat Maria Pereira, Taylor’s Board of Education colleague and frequent sparring partner, alleged in the voluminous case she built and submitted to the state Elections Enforcement Commission. The SEEC on April 17 authorized staff to launch a probe of Pereira’s allegations.

Pereira submitted 122 exhibits — court and municipal documents, business filings, building plans, even screen shots from Facebook — with her complaint. She also provided Hearst copies.

“He did not reside in Bridgeport when he ran for office in 2015 and 2017, did not reside in Bridgeport the day he took his (school board) oath of office in 2017, and does not reside in Bridgeport today,” Pereira wrote the SEEC.

“This is my bona fide residency,” Taylor insisted Tuesday evening of his Davenport Street address as he led a Hearst reporter and photographer around the property — an East End industrial site where he had planned to open a recycling operation. It was built about four years ago and Taylor estimated he has called the property home since 2016.

But Pereira found paperwork, some of which Hearst fact-checked, in which Taylor claimed he has been living at 270 Bronson Road in Southport, a single-family home owned since 2007 by his mother.

For example, in May 2016, as part of a foreclosure case, Taylor signed a state Superior Court document stating 270 Bronson Road was his mailing address and also submitted a copy of a lease with his mother. That lease began March 1, 2015, and expires March 1, 2062.

Taylor also listed the Southport address as his residence in business filings with the Secretary of the State’s office for two Limited Liability Corporations — Bridgeport Processing and Manufacturing LLC, the dormant recycling operation, and The Ponderosa LLC, which he just created this past February.

The quarters Taylor showed Hearst Tuesday were on the second floor of the otherwise unused two-story scale house at 155 Davenport St. where trucks filled with cardboard and plastic to be recycled would, were it open, have those deliveries weighed.

There was also a large four-bay garage. The property was gated, walled and fenced-off from the surrounding neighborhood — mostly multi-family homes, a few other industrial businesses, and Jettie S. Tisdale school.

Connecting the dots

Taylor on Tuesday acknowledged the lease with his mother and said that he spends a lot of time at 270 Bronson Road.

“I do see my mother a lot. I love my mom,” Taylor said. “You can have more than one residency.”

Asked how many nights a week he sleeps at 155 Davenport St., Taylor said, “Quite a bit.” But he declined to get more specific, adding, “I’m not looking to divulge my personal lifestyle.”

Taylor said he frequently uses his mother’s home as a mailing address because it is more convenient than trying to have things delivered to Davenport Street. But on Tuesday there was a prominent curbside mailbox along the street outside of his recycling business’ security wall, and Taylor also has a Post Office Box.

Pereira also claimed to the SEEC that Taylor has a fiancee living at 270 Bronson Road.

“No comment,” Taylor said. “Maria can assume whatever she wants.”

Taylor has also used a third address — 27 Fourth St. in Bridgeport — in recent years.

When he ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2015, Taylor, according to the campaign paperwork filed with the Bridgeport Town Clerk, claimed to live in a multifamily home at 27 Fourth St. Tax records showed Taylor bought that property in August 2015 and transferred it to Camp Capital LLC, run by the woman Pereira alleged is Taylor’s fiancee; paperwork showed the company is headquartered at and the woman lives at 270 Bronson Road.

Taylor’s paperwork for his 2017 school board campaign used 155 Davenport St., but when contributing money to Mayor Joe Ganim’s 2018 gubernatorial bid, Taylor, according to Ganim’s campaign documents, lived at 27 Fourth St.

Taylor said the Ganim campaign paperwork was incorrect.

Because of ongoing problems with politicians not living in town, the City Council a few years ago mandated elected leaders each January fill out address forms with the Town Clerk and submit proof of residence. Taylor in January claimed he lived at 155 Davenport St. with a P.O. Box.

Bare bones

Pereira also did a deep dive into the floor plans and building and fire marshal permits that Taylor sought and received for his 155 Davenport St. complex between 2012 and 2016, all of which indicated the site was industrial, for business use and non-residential, technically making his apartment there illegal.

A September 2016 inspection report from the Bridgeport Fire Marshall that Pereira provided to the SEEC stated “second floor has two offices and a full bathroom” and, in capital letters, “Not for sleeping use.”

Taylor insisted Tuesday that as long as had no stove he was not breaking the rules. He instead had a microwave.

Taylor agreed Monday to provide Hearst the Tuesday evening tour of his living quarters, which appeared used, but sparse. He had a first floor kitchen area that shares the room with office space for his unopened recycling operation. There was no stove, but plates were in the cupboards, utensils in the drawers and food in the refrigerator.

Stairs led to a second floor hallway with three separate rooms — the aforementioned full bathroom; his “little entertainment room” with a couch, a small flat screen television on the wall and a few books on a shelf; and a bedroom with a bed, a nightstand with some toiletries, a dresser with clothes inside and a large television on top.

The walls in the rooms — along with the hallway connecting them — were bare of decoration.

“I’m not a flashy guy,” Taylor said. “I’m not typical. I beat my own drum.”

Taylor was non-committal about if and when he might launch the recycling business, stating: “I move at my own speed. Not hard up for money. When it’s right with God, it’ll happen.”

He said he will fully cooperate with the SEEC investigation, and added he is grateful to Pereira for the attention.

“This is publicity I can’t buy,” Taylor said, posing by his truck scale for a Hearst photograph. “I love Maria Pereira.”


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