Eyewitness News Investigates

Fung removes Providence campaign chairman arrested in 2015 for domestic violence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung has quickly cut ties with his newly announced Providence campaign chairman, saying he was not aware of the individual's past arrest for domestic violence.

Fung's team announced Monday that Hamlet Lopez would serve as its chairman in the capital city, listing Lopez in a news release that highlighted its city and town chairs for most of the state's 39 communities.

"I am so thankful for the support of these experienced community leaders from across our state," Fung said in a statement when he announced the group. "Together, we are focused on righting the ship here in Rhode Island, and I am confident that with their help we can fix the mess this governor has made."

Lopez was a Democratic candidate for Providence City Council in 2014, nearly defeating incumbent Wilbur Jennings. The following year, however, police arrested Lopez after they said he attacked his wife. The woman's daughter alleged she heard Lopez say, "I'm going to kill you."

Lopez, 31, said the charges were later dropped. There appears to be no record of the case in the state judiciary's online database.

"I'm grateful that this was rightfully dismissed," Lopez said in an email Tuesday. "I've been moving forward with my life ever since."

Andrew Vargas Vila, Fung's campaign manager, said Monday night that Lopez had been volunteering for the campaign before his appointment as its Providence chair.

"He failed to disclose this with us, and once we became aware we removed him from our town chairs committee," Vargas Vila said. Lopez's name was quickly deleted from a news release on the campaign's website, as well.

Lopez said, "I did not disclose the case to the campaign when asked because I didn't think I needed to since it was dismissed."

A replacement Providence chair has not yet been selected, but Fung is planning a second round of city and town leader announcements in the future, Vargas Vila added.

Fung's other city and town chairs include state Reps. Brian Newberry and Mike Chippendale, state Sen. Thomas Paolino and former Rhode Island Republican Party Chairmen Mark Smiley and Mark Zaccaria. The campaign currently lists chairs in 33 of 39 communities.

The Providence Republican City Committee has seen multiple changes in leadership over the past year.

Roy Bolden was removed as the city GOP's chairman a year ago after he was arrested. (He is currently awaiting trial.) Former mayoral candidate Dan Harrop was elected to replace Bolden but just stepped down, according to state GOP Chairman Brandon Bell. An election to replace Harrop is scheduled for April 19.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and FacebookDan McGowan contributed to this report.

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