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Former Providence City Council candidate charged with violating campaign finance laws

Gerard Catala, now president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, is accused of failing to file campaign finance reports as required by state law

Sign at the Rhode Island Board of Elections headquarters.Edward Fitzpatrick

PROVIDENCE — Former Providence City Council candidate Gerard C. Catala has been charged with violating state campaign finance laws, authorities announced Thursday.

Catala, who last year lost a Democratic primary for the City Council Ward 9 seat, has since been elected president of the Providence branch of the NAACP.

Catala, 44, of Providence, was arraigned by a justice of the peace at the Rhode Island State Police barracks on two charges of failing to file campaign finance reports as required by state law, according to a statement from Attorney General Peter F. Neronha and State Police Superintendent Darnell S. Weaver. He will be re-arraigned in Sixth Division District Court on Tuesday.

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Catala was charged with knowingly and willfully failing to file two required finance reports, stemming from his candidacy for the City Council seat in the 2022 election.

“As I have stated previously, this office is committed to stepping in at the request of the Board of Elections when candidates for public office blithely and repeatedly ignore Rhode Island’s campaign finance laws,” Neronha said.

“Those laws exist for many reasons, among them to provide transparency into how candidates are financing their campaigns and whether they are doing so legally,” he said. “Failure to file such reports, after repeated directives from the Board of Elections to file them, can lead only to one place: criminal prosecution. I am grateful to the Board of Elections for their strong partnership with this office, and to the State Police for their usual excellent investigative work in this case.”

In 2022, the Board of Elections referred this matter to the attorney general and the State Police for investigation. Catala is accused of repeatedly failing to file required campaign finance reports despite numerous communications from the Board of Elections about filing requirements.

Authorities claim Catala failed to file a required campaign finance report for candidates due 28 days before the primary (August 16, 2022) and a second required campaign finance report due seven days before the primary (September 6, 2022). Catala had not yet filed either of the required reports as of Thursday.

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Catala could not be reached immediately for comment.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him @FitzProv.