RI Supreme Court declines to block recall effort of Councilman Jackson

City Councilman Kevin Jackson

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence City Councilman Kevin Jackson has lost another court battle in his quest to block a group of constituents in Ward 3 from attempting to recall him from office.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal Jackson’s lawyers filed after a Superior Court judge rejected the councilman’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have stopped the group from collecting signatures for the recall while he challenged its original recall petition.

Superior Court Judge Richard Licht denied the councilman’s request in November, arguing that his court “lacks subject matter jurisdiction” to hear the case. Jackson subsequently filed a complaint against the Providence Board of Canvassers with the R.I. Board of Elections.

Jackson, a 58-year-old Democrat who has represented Ward 3 on the East Side since 1995, 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. He is also accused of using $12,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses.

In September, a group of Jackson’s constituents submitted a declaration of intent to petition for recall to the city clerk that included more than 300 signatures, the number required to initiate the recall process. The Providence Board of Canvassers certified the signatures in November.

The group is currently in the process of collecting signatures from 20% of the registered voters in Ward 3 – it needs approximately 2,000 signatures – which need to be submitted within 120 days of the November certification. If they are successful, the voters of Ward 3 will be asked to vote yes or no on whether they wish to recall Jackson. If he is recalled, a special election will be held.

Separately, the group, which calls itself Recall Kevin Jackson, incorporated as a nonprofit organization with the R.I. secretary of state’s office on Dec. 20. The group’s directors include Patricia Kammerer, Erich Stephens and Arthur Norwalk.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan