This story has been updated since it was first posted.
By Elizabeth F. McNamara
A number of residents reported over the weekend receiving an anonymous mailing alerting them about a 2012 warrant out of Ohio for David Caldwell, the husband of House Dist. 30 candidate Justine Caldwell, for failing to appear in Cleveland Heights Municipal Court over a housing matter.
“They cited my house after I moved away,” said David Caldwell on Monday. “I didn’t get the notice because I had moved.”
He said he did not know about the warrant until various residents reached out to the campaign on Saturday after having received the mailing. Caldwell said he contacted Cleveland Heights Municipal Court Monday morning and was referred to the housing department. He was told his house had been cited for paint and roof issues. He said those issues have long since been remedied and he no longer owns the house.
“I am beyond disappointed to have seen this mailer,” said Justine Caldwell in a press release. “It’s deceptive and dishonest, but my neighbors got it, parents at my kids’ school got it, and that feels awful. This should not be the price of trying to do public service.”
“The people who researched, authored, printed, stuffed, and paid for this mailer are so hell-bent on harming Justine that they are ruthlessly researching her spouse and who knows who else,” said David Caldwell. “They found something out about me that I didn’t know and even local police couldn’t find.”
It is unclear who paid for the mailer, which went to an unknown number of registered voters in East Greenwich and West Greenwich and was sent by regular mail in envelopes stamped, “DISTRIBUTED – Voter Information Enclosed.”
According to a clerk at the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court, Pawtucket resident Matthew Fecteau, a former Democratic state Senate candidate and freelance writer, submitted a public records request for the information in July. The clerk said Fecteau was the only person to have requested that information in the six years since the warrant was issued.
Fecteau has been critical of Justine Caldwell on social media. On Monday he said while he had requested the information, he was not behind the mailing.
“I was interested in it because I was going to write a story about it,” said Fecteau. In the end, he said, he decided not to write about it but he admitted sharing it with “a group of people.” He declined to be more specific, but he said none of those people were connected with the campaign of Justine Caldwell’s opponent, Republican Anthony Giarrusso.
“I don’t agree with the way it was handled,” Fecteau said of the mailing. But, he added, “At the end of the day, David Caldwell had a warrant out for his arrest.”
While Fecteau has been critical of Caldwell, he has been much more positive about Giarrusso online, including in this article on GoLocalProv.
Reached late Monday, Giarrusso, meanwhile, said he was not involved.
“The issues that Mr. Caldwell has with the courts in Ohio will have to speak for themselves but rest assured, neither I nor anyone associated with my campaign had any knowledge of this mailer. I very much dislike these political tactics,” he said. “Normally these things creep up on the weekend before an election so I am even more confused as to the ones responsible for this. And the timing of mailer makes it seem more personal than political.”