- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A powerful state lawmaker in Rhode Island is being stripped of his voter registration and could be barred from running for re-election after Providence’s election board ruled Thursday that he doesn’t live at a home in the legislative district he represents.

The two-member Providence Board of Canvassers ruled unanimously that Democratic state Rep. John Carnevale is not an eligible voter because he doesn’t live at the Providence home where he has been a longtime registered voter.

His attorney told reporters he’s determining if he will appeal the decision to the state Board of Elections.

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, a Democrat, said Thursday night that she won’t certify the lawmaker as a candidate for the fall elections unless she is ordered to do so by the state Board of Elections or state Supreme Court.

Carnevale has insisted he lives in Providence since a months-long investigation by news station WPRI-TV found that he spends much of his time at a house outside his legislative district that he owns but hadn’t declared on ethics filings. Video footage by the news station showed the lawmaker masking his face with a T-shirt after spotting a news camera outside the suburban house in Johnston. He later told constituents he covered his face because of allergies.



The state’s Republican Party filed a complaint asking the Providence Board of Canvassers to investigate.

His claims drew even more scrutiny just days before his first residency hearing this month when the Providence Police Department said Carnevale, a retired police lieutenant, asked for an officer to write him parking tickets outside the Providence home.

Police Lt. Richard Fernandes testified before the board Thursday that it was an “extremely” odd request. Public Safety Commissioner Steve Pare also testified, saying he took offense that Carnevale appeared to be using the police department to resolve his residency problems. Carnevale later testified that he was actually asking not to be ticketed.

The Board of Canvassers also attempted to subpoena tenants at Carnevale’s Providence property, a multifamily home where the lawmaker grew up, but was unable to get any to show up. One slammed the door on a constable, the city said.

On Wednesday, the two board members couldn’t come to an agreement on requests to introduce more evidence into the case, including the parking tickets the lawmaker allegedly asked for. Among other questions is whether the basement apartment where he reportedly lives is a legal residence. But Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, a Democrat, intervened, urging the board to let the police department testify and to consider all the evidence.

Carnevale has been represented at the hearings by a fellow Democratic lawmaker, Cranston Rep. Robert Jacquard. Jacquard dismissed the attempt to introduce tax returns, insurance papers and other documents as a personally invasive “fishing expedition” and said the board should focus on the narrow legal requirements for residency, suggesting on Wednesday that even sleeping in a backyard tent outside the house would be OK.

Republican state Sen. John Pagliarini, a Tiverton attorney representing the state GOP’s complaint, retorted: “You may not pitch a tent and then run for political office.”

State police are also investigating Carnevale. Top Democrats in the state legislature have called on him to reconsider running for re-election and are taking away his leadership role as vice chairman of the powerful finance committee in the House of Representatives. Three other Democrats are running to unseat him in the September primary.

___

The story has been revised to correct the spelling of the police lieutenant’s last name to Fernandes.

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