- Associated Press - Friday, July 29, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island state lawmaker Friday withdrew his re-election bid after he was unable to convince Providence’s elections board that he lives in the district he represents.

Democratic Rep. John Carnevale said he’s quitting the race out of concern for his family, neighbors and constituents.

The Providence Board of Canvassers ruled Thursday that Carnevale is not an eligible voter because he doesn’t live at the Providence residence where he registered to vote.

His attorney, fellow Democratic state Rep. Robert Jacquard, said Friday that Carnevale won’t appeal the board’s ruling and hasn’t decided yet when or how he might become a voter again.

Carnevale was first elected in 2008 and was vice chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee until the legislature adjourned last month. Three other Democrats are running for Carnevale’s seat in the September primary.

The state’s Republican Party had asked the board to investigate after WPRI-TV found Carnevale owns a suburban Johnston home he hadn’t reported on ethics filings. Video footage by the TV station showed Carnevale spent much of his time at the Johnston home, and masked his face with a T-shirt after spotting a reporter’s camera outside. The lawmaker later told his constituents that he covered his face because of allergies.

His credibility came under more scrutiny days before his first canvassers hearing, when the Providence Police Department alleged that Carnevale, a retired police lieutenant, asked an officer to write him a parking ticket outside the Providence residence.

Two city law enforcement officers testified Thursday that it was an “extremely” odd request that they interpreted as an attempt to use the tickets to try to validate his residency.

With the board ruling, Democratic Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said Carnevale was barred from running for re-election unless the state Board of Elections or state Supreme Court ruled otherwise.

Carnevale, who is also now being investigated by state police, has insisted he lives in a basement bedroom in the multifamily Providence home where he grew up and where he was a longtime registered voter.

A state senator whose legislative district overlaps with Carnevale’s said he had no idea the lawmaker owned a house in Johnston until it was reported in the news. Democratic state Sen. Frank Ciccone said Carnevale is well-known in the neighborhood and voluntarily plows driveways, and has “gone as far as setting animal traps for people when they have possums and stuff in their house.”

“When I walked the area with him, everybody knew him,” Ciccone said. “The assumption was he lived there.”

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