PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Embattled Providence City Councilman Kevin Jackson is challenging the signatures submitted by a group of his constituents as part of their effort to remove him from office.
Jackson’s attorney, Artin Coloian, sent appeal letters to the city clerk’s office and the Providence Board of Canvassers Friday, a day after the clerk confirmed the group’s 360 signatures were enough to advance their recall plans.
In a letter to the clerk, Coloian said he and Jackson have reason to believe “we have discovered violations which have occurred in this process.” He requested a hearing with the clerk and the Board of Canvassers.
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Jackson, 58-year-old Democrat was arrested by State Police in May and indicted by a statewide grand jury in July. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege Jackson embezzled $127,153 from the Providence Cobras youth track-and-field team, an organization that received more than $67,000 in taxpayer-funded city donations between 2005 and 2015.
Investigators claim Jackson used the organization’s money to fund campaign-related expenses, including an advertisement in a local magazine during his 2014 re-election bid. He is also accused of using the Cobras’ money on apparel, car repairs and monthly Netflix charges.
Jackson is also accused of using $12,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses, including apparel, health care, cash withdrawals and paying a fine to the R.I. Board of Elections. Jackson has a long history of failing to file campaign reports.
In September, a declaration of intent to petition for recall was submitted to the clerk’s office by Tricia Kammerer, a Warwick elementary school teacher who has lived on the East Side for 21 years. The city’s Home Rule charter requires 300 signatures from qualified electors to begin the recall process.
Now that the initial signatures have been certified, Kammerer will have 120 days to collect signatures from 20% of the registered voters in Ward 3 – about 2,000 voters.
If the group manages to secure the necessary signatures, a question asking whether the councilman shall be removed from office would be placed on a ballot for a vote that must occur between 30 and 60 days after the signatures are certified. If the majority of voters support the recall, Jackson would be removed from office. Then a special election would be held.
In his letter, Coloian said he objects to the “commencement of the 120-day rule for the garnering of signatures for removal of the office holder, pending the outcome of appeal.”
Reached Friday, Kammerer said she stands by the “validity of the signatures.”
“We’ll be starting the next process on Monday,” she said.