When Jorge Elorza ran against Buddy Cianci for Mayor of Providence he highlighted the message that we cannot return to a culture of corruption. In the swirl of issues that surrounded Cianci’s campaign were allegations of rape as well as convictions for crimes committed while in office.
Today, the Providence Board of Canvassers, a body whose members are appointed by Elorza, will decide the fate of Representative John Carnevale, a man who has a similar history of alleged sexual violence against women, and a man who could be said to represent the very culture of corruption that Cianci represented.
Carnevale was one of Buddy Cianci’s principle boosters in 2014. He has faced multiple accusations of physically abusing his ex-wife, and in 2011 he was indicted for sexually assaulting a Johnston woman. Carnevale pleaded innocent. The charges were dropped after the woman died suddenly.
In June, a WPRI investigation discovered evidence that Carnevale has been lying about living in his district. The investigation seems to have revealed that Carnevale lives in Johnston, and that told the tenants of the Providence house he is registered at to lie when asked if he resided there.
These allegations should make Carnevale ineligible to run for representative again, but Mayor Elorza has struggled to build support in the General Assembly and, according to sources, has developed an alliance with House Majority Leader John DeSimone, a close friend of Carnevale.
The question is, will Elorza play cynical politics and pressure his Board of Canvassers to give Carnevale a pass? Elorza has had a rocky first two years in office, but from all accounts he is so far un-blighted by the overt corruption of Rhode Island politics. Appeasing John DeSimone and allowing John Carnevale to be allowed to run despite evidence he does not reside in his district would be akin to jumping into the deep end of the dirtiest pool in Rhode Island.
That kind of thing does not wash off.
Although Mayor Elorza is trying to make the case, as was reported by WPRI, that he is not responsible for this decision, the choice is clearly his to make.
Mayor Jorge Elorza has a chance to do the right thing today. After everything he said about Buddy Cianci and the political culture of corruption during his campaign, allowing John Carnevale to run would be a betrayal.
The Board of Canvassers meets at the Providence City Hall at 11am today.
Elorza’s legacy hangs in the balance.