PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Pawtucket Board of Canvassers received an updated version of Rep. Carlos Tobon’s voter registration card overnight Tuesday, eliminating the need for a hearing next week.
Pawtucket Registrar Kenneth McGill told Target 12 the new card was put into a city drop-off box sometime Tuesday night, showing the Pawtucket Democrat is now listing his Lawn Avenue home as his place of residency rather than his parents’ home on Bloomingdale Avenue.
Tobon had been registered to vote from his parents’ home, even though he freely admitted to living at the Lawn Avenue address since at least 2013 — the entire time he’s been a member of the R.I. House of Representatives.
The updated registration card comes after a Target 12 investigation raised questions about Tobon’s home address spurred the city’s Board of Canvassers to send a letter to both addresses, calling on him to fix his voter registration or show up for a meeting next week.
After receiving the new card, McGill said the meeting wouldn’t be necessary and any further action would be left up to law enforcement.
“It’s the boards job to get the voter to the right address and make sure our voter rolls are correct,” McGill explained in an email. “Anything legally would have to be prosecuted through the [R.I. Attorney General’s] office. These are the normal steps we would take for any voter. Thanks to you and WPRI for bringing this matter up to the board so that we able to make Pawtucket’s voting rolls correct. I expect for there to be no further action.”
This story was updated on Wednesday, May 11. The original story is below
PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Pawtucket Board of Canvassers has hand-delivered a letter to two addresses where state Rep. Carlos Tobon has claimed to live, saying the embattled lawmaker needs to correct his voter registration or show up for a hearing next week.
The letter was sent just days after a Target 12 investigation examining the Pawtucket Democrat’s financial problems raised questions about whether the lawmaker lives where he’s registered to vote.
Tobon, first elected to the R.I. House of Representatives in 2014, has listed 30 Bloomingdale Ave. on all state and local election documents during his time in office. But according to two sworn depositions, a 2019 bankruptcy filing and an interview with Target 12, Tobon has actually been living at 104 Lawn Ave., which is two blocks away from Bloomingdale and still within his district.
“It has come to the attention of the Pawtucket Board of Canvassers through a news report on WPRI 12 that you may not live at the address that you have listed on your voter registration card,” Board of Canvassers Chairperson Maria Pavao wrote in the letter.
Pawtucket directed the city sergeant to hand-deliver two versions of the same letter to both 30 Bloomingdale Ave. — which is owned by Tobon’s parents — and 104 Lawn Ave., which is owned by the lawmaker’s wife through a limited liability corporation that’s fallen out of good standing with the state.
The letter cites a state election law that requires a person’s residence for voting purposes to be their “fixed and established domicile,” and Pavao emphasized, “A person can have only one domicile.”
The board has directed Tobon to either correct his voter registration card and return it to the board, or else show up for a hearing on May 17 at 1:30 p.m. and make a case for why his listing is correct. According to the city, Tobon has voted in 14 separate elections since 2013, and he’s always listed the Bloomingdale Avenue address as his home during that time.
Separately on Tuesday, Attorney General Peter Neronha weighed in about the Tobon revelations for the first time, saying there was “lots to go through” in Target 12’s report while declining to go into detail.
“Just speaking very broadly, when you have the allegations, the reporting that you guys did, there’s a combination of things that that raises,” Neronha said during a live interview on 12 News at 4. “Some are political obviously, some are civil — and a lot of those things are in the courts — and then there may be things that others in law enforcement may need to take a look at.”
“I read the reporting with interest, and there have been other matters that have come to us through the media in the past,” he said. “So we follow a process and I’ll be in a position, perhaps, to comment at a later date.”
The action by the Pawtucket election officials came after Mayor Donald Grebien described the new information about Tobon as “disheartening.”
“It was extremely disappointing to find out and my heart goes out to those who have been hurt by this,” Grebien said over the weekend. “When something like this is brought to light, it truly does affect the community as a whole.”
House Speaker Joe Shekarchi asked for and received Tobon’s resignation from various legislative posts hours after Target 12’s report, including his positions as a subcommittee chairman on the influential House Finance Committee and as a deputy majority leader.
Shekarchi also quickly drafted a new policy that prohibits State House attorneys from representing House and Senate lawmakers in private disputes — a rule that was spurred by the fact that House lawyer John Manni was defending Tobon in a civil dispute involving a 17-year-old debt he owed to a friend.
On Monday, Manni filed a motion to withdraw as Tobon’s lawyer, citing the new policy.
Tobon was absent at the House’s floor session on Tuesday, which was the first time the body had met since he resigned from the Finance Committee.
In an interview with Target 12, Tobon admitted that he’s made mistakes but argued he never meant to deceive anyone. He did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook
Kim Kalunian contributed to this report.