The Johnston Board of Canvassers has rejected complaints by the man who represents District 42 in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
The race for Rhode Island’s District 42 State Representative seat had already attracted attention for featuring two family members — an incumbent versus his nephew — competing for the Democratic nomination.
Incumbent State Rep. Edward T. “Ed” Cardillo Jr. (Democrat representing District 42-Cranston, Johnston) will likely face his nephew Dennis Cardillo Jr. in this year’s Democratic Primary. The sitting representative, however, has alleged his nephew lives outside the district in which he’s running for office.
A public Johnston Board of Canvassers hearing last week considered claims by Rep. Ed Cardillo that his nephew, his opponent, broke the law. Rep. Cardillo claimed his opponent lives outside District 42, at an address other than the home he declared on election documents.
On Thursday, Dennis Cardillo Jr. defended himself at the hearing, which was triggered when his uncle filed a complaint with the Johnston Board of Canvassers early last week.
The process actually involved examining whether to remove Dennis Cardillo and his wife from the voting list. Once removed from the voting list in a particular district, they would then be ineligible to run for office in the district.
“I have filed a formal complaint with the Johnston Board of Canvassers challenging the residency of Dennis Cardillo Jr, who is running for State Representative in District 42 Johnston/Cranston,” Rep. Ed Cardillo said in a press release distributed widely last Monday. “The formal hearing, under penalty of perjury, will be held within a few days. In 2020 the voters of District 42 elected me their State Representative. I swore an oath that included a promise to ‘protect and defend the laws of the State Of Rhode Island.’”
Rep. Cardillo alleged that his nephew/opponent, and his family, reside outside the district.
“During this election season, I became aware that a declared candidate for State Representative, Dennis Cardillo Jr., and his family, do not live where they declared on his Declaration of Candidacy, made under the penalty of perjury,” Rep. Cardillo said in the press release.
The sitting state representative announced that he has enlisted a former Secret Service and Treasury agent to investigate the matter. He alleges the investigator discovered: “Neither Dennis nor his family live in Johnston as stated in that declaration.”
The investigator claims to have proven via photographs and surveillance that Dennis Cardillo has been residing at Chateau Chatillon, 30 Oaklawn Ave., Cranston, from June 8-14, of this year.
Dennis Cardillo said that residence refers to his mother’s address, where he has been helping her rehabilitate since she underwent recent medical procedures. He denies the allegations made by his uncle, and has alleged both “stalking” and “harassment” by the sitting legislator.
“On June 27, 2022, Dennis Cardillo executed Rhode Island Declaration of Candidacy form listing a home address of 1757 Plainfield Pike, Johnston,” Rep. Cardillo alleges in his press release, adding that his opponent’s wife, Argilda Jackelin Cardillo, also listed the same address for her candidacy for the state’s Representative District Committee.
Argilda Jackelin Cardillo did not complete the declaration process, and will not be running for the District Committee. When hearing that, Rep. Ed Cardillo and his attorneys informed the Board of Canvassers that they would like to drop the complaint against his opponents wife.
Rep. Cardillo claims to “have proven via surveillance that Dennis Cardillo and Argilda Jackelin Cardillo are residing at Chateau Chatillon, 30 Oaklawn Ave., Cranston,” from July 12-14.
At the hearing, Dennis Cardillo presented photographs of his mother’s injury dated July 12.
“They both appear to be in violation of RIGL §17-23-17 (Violations with respect to Elections), section (a)(2),” Rep. Cardillo claimed in his press release. “The private investigator turned this information over to the RI State Police several weeks ago who also conducted their own surveillance in conjunction with the private investigator. Documents were subpoenaed. To my dismay no action was forthcoming from the State Police. There is a reluctance to interfere in elections.”
Rhode Island State Police will not confirm or deny ongoing investigations, or investigations that do not result in criminal charges.
“I want to stress that this is not simply a ‘family political squabble,’” Rep. Cardillo insists. “It is much more than that. I have unequivocal physical evidence, photographs and video conducted by a former Secret Service and Treasury agent, which prove without a doubt that Dennis Cardillo Jr. lives in Cranston and by filing a fraudulent Declaration of Candidacy may have committed an election felony.”
The incumbent’s nephew, and political opponent, claims Rep. Cardillo has been stalking and harassing his family. He also claims the state rep may have “racial” motivations.
“My wife and I feel as though this is a hate crime since my wife is Hispanic and our child is mixed,” Dennis Cardillo wrote via email last Monday. “We have numerously seen Edward Cardillo sit across the street for hours at Walmart … which appears to be intimidation and harassment. We have in fact lived in the district the entire time as required by law, and after all the (stalking) and mental anguish state representative Edward Cardillo put on us we moved to a new place in the district in Johnston that has private security. Again we feel this is a form of a hate crime against my wife who is a person of color and we will make this known to all news agencies.”
Dennis Cardillo said he’s taking his concerns directly to the leadership at the Rhode Island State Hosue.
“We will be contacting the RI State House to let them know the state rep is harassing members of his own community and request the state to reprimand his actions,” Dennis Cardillo said last Monday.
On Monday, Dennis Cardillo provided copies of letters sent to Rhode Island Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi.
“Based upon the information Ed claims he provided to the news, Rhode Island State Police, and Johnston Board of Canvasser’s, I believe he committed fraud including but not limited to: perjury, evidence tampering, misrepresentation of material facts, and elections tampering,” Dennis Cardillo wrote to Shekarchi. “We ask that you please investigate immediately as time is of the essence.”
When asked to comment on and confirm receipt of Cardillo’s letters, Larry Berman, Director of Communications for the RI Office of the Speaker of the House, responded on behalf of Shekarchi.
“Speaker Shekarchi does not wish to comment on the process that is playing out before independent authorities,” he wrote via email. “He trusts the abilities of those reviewing the matter to do their jobs.”
The elder Cardillo, the incumbent state representative, insists he’s watching out for his constituents.
“The people of my District in Johnston and Cranston deserve to have someone represent them who really live(s) in District 42, from which he is running for office,” Rep. Cardillo said in his press release. “To allow this allegedly fraudulent election deception to go unchallenged makes a mockery of our election laws. Unwillingness to get involved in elections, by law enforcement agencies or state and municipal election agencies, is not a reason to allow potential election felonies to go unpunished.”
Prior to the hearing, Rep. Cardillo predicted little action.
“I have little confidence that the Johnston Board of Canvassers will act upon this complaint in an unbiased manner given the political pressures that will undoubtedly be brought by the political power brokers controlling Johnston,” he said. “I am an outspoken and uncontrollable voice for the people who cannot and will not be silenced by the political machine in Johnston. I will immediately appeal any adverse ruling from the Johnston Board to the State Board of Elections and if necessary to the courts. I will not back down to Johnston or State corrupt political machinations.”
His predictions came to fruition when the Board of Canvassers unanimously dismissed the affidavits he provided. Rep. Ed Cardillo and his attorneys vowed to continue the fight, and said they would likely provide supplemental information to the affidavits, and reinvigorate their complaint against the District 42 challenger.
In his letters to Shekarchi, Dennis Cardillo Jr. vowed to fight his uncle’s actions all the way to Washington D.C., and beyond, possibly all the way to the Peruvian capital.
“We are now formally requesting that you personally take action upon this. We will be contacting more news outlets, hate crime associations, and activists,” He wrote to the RI Speaker of the House. “This type of behavior is unacceptable in today’s society … This to me appears to be a clear violation of the law and appears to be a tactic to swing votes in his favor. We believe Ed has been attempting to pull my wife and myself out of the race for candidacy. We now ask for you to take action against him for his injustices. By no means will we allow this to go on any further. I will be reaching out to the White House and my wife will be contacting her grandfather who is an attorney and a former diplomat and Secretary of State to the Country of Peru for assistance.”
Incumbent State Rep. Edward T. Cardillo Jr. will likely face his nephew Dennis Cardillo Jr., and another candidate, fellow Democrat Kelsey Kristine Coletta, in the District 42 Democratic Primary. Republican Harold K. Borders has also declared his candidacy and will likely face the victor of the primary race in November’s General Election.
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