COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island State Police are investigating state Sen. Nicholas Kettle, Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin confirmed Tuesday afternoon after investigators were spotted at the lawmaker’s home early this morning.
Philbin said he could not provide further details about the investigation or why troopers were at Kettle’s Barbs Hill Road home early Tuesday.
Paul DiMaio, a lawyer for the 27-year-old Republican senator, told Target 12 that Kettle will likely resign from the General Assembly. “I don’t think he is going to be charged, but I think he’s going to resign,” DiMaio said. “But that is a family question.”
DiMaio said the investigation has “nothing to do” with Kettle’s work as an elected official. “This is basically the result of a breakup in a relationship with a girlfriend, or it caused the breakup,” he said, adding that investigators executed a search warrant, went through Kettle’s entire house and took his cellphone. Kettle later provided a computer, he said.
“There were no drugs, no pornographic material – it’s not involving revenge porn or kiddie porn,” DiMaio said.
Kettle was first elected to the Senate in 2010 when he was just 20 years old and has been re-elected three times since. He is a member of the Senate Finance Committee. He was not on hand at the start of Tuesday afternoon’s Senate session.
If Kettle resigns soon, it would likely trigger a special election to fill his Senate seat. Former state Rep. Michael Marcello, a Scituate Democrat who lost re-election in 2016, said he would consider running for the seat if it opens up.
Kettle is one of just five Republicans in the 38-member Senate. One of his GOP colleagues, Sen. Elaine Morgan of Hopkinton, said Tuesday afternoon she had been making calls trying to determine what had transpired at Kettle’s home but had been unable to find anything out so far.
Kettle paid a $2,000 fine to the R.I. Board of Elections last month after a discrepancy was found between his campaign finance account and bank statement. He also forfeited $4,000 in campaign funds.
But elections official Richard Thornton said state police investigators did not request any documentation and the violation was not forwarded on for criminal consideration.
Attorney John Pagliarini, who represented Kettle in that case, said he was unaware of the police presence at Kettle’s home and is no longer representing him.
A spokesman for Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, said he had no comment on the Kettle matter because he did not have enough information about the situation.
Ted Nesi, Steph Machado and Sarah Doiron contributed to this report.