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Ex-Rep. Carnevale registers to lobby at the State House

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former state Rep. John Carnevale, who pleaded no contest to felony charges that he lied about whether he lived in his district, is apparently returning to the State House.

The Rhode Island secretary of state’s website shows Carnevale registered on Jan. 3 to advocate on behalf of Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle, a sporting goods store in North Kingstown, as a $50-an-hour lobbyist. The business is owned by former North Kingstown Town Councilor Michael Bestwick, according to the website.

In an email, Bestwick said he is tasking Carnevale “to watch and weigh in on any changes in DEM laws, rules and regulations pertaining to fishing and hunting and also firearm sales.”

An email to Carnevale was not immediately returned.

Once the vice chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee, Carnevale pleaded no contest to a single count of perjury after cutting a deal with prosecutors. As part of the agreement, two other perjury counts were dropped, as was a misdemeanor charge of filing a false document.

Carnevale was given a five-year sentence: nine months of home confinement, with the rest to be served on probation.

He was indicted in January 2017, months after being kicked off the Providence voter rolls following days of hearings before the city’s Board of Canvassers. The panel determined Carnevale was not being honest about where he lived in the wake of a 2016 Target 12 undercover investigation.

The investigation raised questions as to whether the lawmaker actually lived at a Barbara Street address in Providence he claimed on election and campaign finance paperwork.

Carnevale used the Barbara Street location in his application to be a lobbyist.

Nick Domings, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said lobbying laws do not require a criminal background check to register as a lobbyist.

“The address provided by the lobbyist is for contact purposes – it is not to verify location of a residence,” Domings said in an email.

Carnevale was forced to drop his 2016 re-election bid after being removed from the voter rolls but decided to run again in 2018 while under indictment. That campaign ended when he pleaded guilty.

Per state law, Carnevale won’t be able to run again for office until three years after he completes his probation, which means his name could appear on a 2026 ballot at the earliest.

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

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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