Newly elected state lawmaker won't take seat after mailer controversy

Laufton Ascenção (Facebook photo)

Newly elected Rhode Island state Rep. Laufton Ascenção announced Tuesday that he won't take the oath of office for the District 68 seat he won in November after mounting pressure over a mailer controversy.

"Taking the time in recent days to be with the people I love and who love me has only made that clearer. That’s why I’ve decided to not assume my seat as State Representative," he wrote on Facebook.

Ascenção, 25, went on to write: "I’ve spoken to lots of the people I hoped to represent and it is clear that, given my mistakes, I cannot represent our shared values at the State House as well as I would want to and as they deserve."

A special election will be held within 90 days for the District 68 seat, which represents parts of Bristol and Warren.

Earlier in the day, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence publicly asked Ascenção not to take the seat after he admitted to lying about mailers and then creating phony documents to cover it up.

The statement said many of its members used their personal time to knock on doors for the candidate because they trusted him.

"His actions are at minimum a betrayal of that trust, and we no longer believe that he can effectively advocate for the many causes he has championed, including the need to reduce gun violence in Rhode Island," the group said in a statement.

Ascenção admitted on Facebook that he broke his promise to Warren Democrats by not sending a mailer out supporting their campaigns.

According to the Ascenção, he finished designing the mailer too late to mail before election night.

Instead of owning up to the failure, he told them he had mailed it, according to his own admission.

Ascenção said he showed a copy of the mailer to interested parties along with a fake invoice and a check he wrote.

The RICAGV said it was shocked to learn of the "unethical actions" taken by Ascenção.

"We believe it would be in both Ascenção’s best interest, and in the best interests of his constituents for him to step down from his position as State Representative in District 68 at this time,” the group said in a statement.

Ascenção apologized to the voters who gave him their support.

"I let you down and I will continue to try to make amends even though I am not assuming the position," he said in his statement.

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