Providence election officials to meet next week in challenge to Carnevale residency

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence election officials will meet next week to determine whether or not there is enough reasonable cause to launch hearings into questions surrounding state Rep. John Carnevale’s residency.

The Providence Board of Canvassers will meet Tuesday to discuss “Challenge of Registration / John M. Carnevale,” according to the agenda filed Friday afternoon.

The meeting – which will be held at a third floor conference room at Providence City Hall – is open to the public. The three-member board currently has one vacancy but is chaired by Claudia Haugen, with Renay Brooks Omisore as the clerk of the board. It held its last meeting on April 5.

Board members have six-year terms and are appointed by the mayor from a list of names submitted by each political party. Haugen is a Democrat and Omisore is a Republican, according to Evan England, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza.

England said the mayor has not yet received a list from the party city committee for the vacant seat.

The meeting next week comes after the Rhode Island Republican Party filed a complaint with the Board of Canvassers Tuesday challenging Carnevale’s voter registration on the basis that he is not a resident of his stated residence, 150 Barbara St. in Providence, citing an undercover investigation by Target 12.

On Monday, Carnevale amended nine years of ethics filings to belatedly disclose his ownership of a Johnston property where Target 12 spotted him with a T-shirt wrapped around his face, apparently to avoid being seen by undercover surveillance cameras.

Rep. John Carnevale wrapped his face in a T-shirt while undercover surveillance cameras were rolling.
Rep. John Carnevale wrapped his face in a T-shirt while undercover surveillance cameras were rolling.

Carnevale’s amended financial statements would indicate the Johnston property is not his primary residence. However, a 2007 mortgage document he signed for that home explicitly stated that he “agrees to occupy the property as [his] principal residence,” according to a copy obtained by Target 12.

Two former tenants at 150 Barbara St. also told Target 12 they were instructed to say Carnevale lived at the property if anyone asked – even though, according to them, he did not. During months of undercover surveillance, Carnevale’s vehicles were seen repeatedly at the Johnston property but never at 150 Barbara St., his official residence.

Carnevale, a 54-year-old Democrat and vice chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee, has repeatedly refused to answer Target 12’s questions about the contradictions between the surveillance footage, the mortgage document, the ex-tenants’ testimony, and his own official statements.

An important deadline for candidates is looming. Those planning on running for office must submit their declaration of candidacy to the secretary of state’s office by June 29. Carnevale has said to reporters he plans on running again.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes The Saturday Morning Post and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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