House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello received a letter from Rhode Island business organizations urging the General Assembly to budget taxpayer money to repay the roughly $90 million owed to bond holders in the 38 Studios deal. The letter was signed by ten organizations, including a number of chambers of commerce and business groups.
At a recent State House rally, a small group of protesters urged lawmakers and the Governor not to bail out 38 Studios.
"It’s a scam. It’s a rip-off. We shouldn’t pay it back," said one protestor - as reported by the Providence Journal.
According to this GoLocal Providence report, the legal battle against 38 Studios has already cost the state $840,000 in legal fees and related costs, and could cost taxpayers "millions" by the time it comes to a close. Only a fraction of the total amount ($156,000) has gone to the firm representing the state, Wistow & Barylick, Inc.
The fallout from the $75 million loan given to 38 Studios is continuing to be a hot-button issue in the state of Rhode Island. In the race for Rhode Island Attorney General, one candidate is using the deal in his attack ads against incumbent Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. In a new 60 second attack ad airing on radio in the state, Republican state senator and attorney general candidate Dawson Hodgson's campaign highlights Peter Kilmartin’s 2010 vote for the legislation that allowed the 38 Studios loan guarantee.
Another day, another dozen stories coming out of Rhode Island about 38 Studios and how it is affecting several political races this year. The most prominent story today (from the Providence Journal) highlights the revelation that Michael Corso, the Rhode Island lawyer, tax-credit broker, and long-time friend of former House Speaker Gordon D.
Four former top executives at 38 Studios are fighting in federal court to keep more than a half-million documents tied to the bankrupt video-game company 38 Studios. The former executives are being sued in state court by the EDC and the state of Rhode Island. Company founder Curt Schilling, former CEO Jennifer MacLean, former CFO Richard Wester, and 38 Studios board director Thomas Zaccagnino claim that "privileged communications between 38 Studios and its attorneys had been released to the [R.I.
Former Rhode Island State Treasurer Frank Caprio (D) is calling on the Gov. Chafee's administration to cancel the state’s new financial advisor contract with a company the state is apparently suing in connection with the $75 million 38 Studios loan deal.
A new two-year contract had been awarded to First Southwest this week, but this deal has not been formally signed according to a spokeswoman for current State Treasurer Gina Raimondo - who is also running for governor. Caprio is running for his old job this year.
Former Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox said on Tuesday in court (through his attorney) that he was resisting a court order to comply with a subpoena in the state’s 38 Studios lawsuit. His attorney argued on Tuesday that providing the information requested from the state could put him in legal jeopardy.
A top board member of 38 Studios urged company executives in 2010 not to highlight its shaky financial condition when it was negotiating with Rhode Island leaders for a $75 million loan guarantee, according to newly released court documents in the ongoing lawsuit between the state of Rhode Island and various individuals related to the deal.
Cranston, Rhode Island Mayor Allan Fung has challenged Governor Chafee to answer "three important questions" related to his stance that the state must avoid defaulting on the bonds that financed 38 Studios. Fung, who is a Republican candidate for Governor, is skeptical that defaulting on future debt payments will damage the state's reputation and ability to secure credit for future endeavors. He put the following questions to Chafee:
Even as an analyst appointed by Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee prepared to brief lawmakers on its findings about what would happen if the state fails to make payment on the 38 Studios loan debt, the Governor is taking his case to the public airways. Speaking to WPRI, Chafee reiterated his position on defaulting on the 38 Studios loan deal bonds.
Rhode Island Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ken Block is telling the state's legislative leaders to "reject calls to repay the 38 Studios bonds."
"The latest version of the debate is once again boiling down to who deserves to be protected—38 Studios bondholders or the taxpayers of Rhode Island," Block said Monday.
An independent analyst who looked at the Rhode Island 38 Studios loan repayment plan said that defaulting on the debt related to the $75 million loan plus other penalties and interest would damage Rhode Island's bond rating to junk status and could harm the state's overall business climate.
The report from Minnesota-based SJ Advisors said that defaulting on the loan would bring increased borrowing costs and harm to the state's reputation, and could lead to a "contagion effect impacting other Rhode Island issuers and even taint the business environment."
Defendants in the EDC's lawsuit against 38 Studios say that Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee's office has continually delayed the production of documents needed to mount a proper defense and have asked a judge to order them turned over.
Lawyers for the defendants call these documents critical to their cases and say they are needed to go forward with the depositions. They want Judge Michael Silverstein to order them produced by May 23. Governor Chafee's office has not yet filed a response.
Richard Licht, director of the R.I. Department of Administration for Gov. Lincoln Chafee, said that he met with Michael Corso twice to talk about getting 38 Studios tax credits. Corso is an attorney who signed a $300,000 contract with Curt Schilling's game development company to lobby government officials in the state.
As expected the failed 38 Studios loan deal is a major issue in Rhode Island's election campaigns and primary challenges. Even as the Secretary of State is making headlines this week for launching an investigation into possible lobbying violations by 38 Studios, critics of Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin on Tuesday jumped on the news by pointing out that both politicians dropped the ball during the loan deal approval timeframe.
Rhode Island State Representative Michael Chippendale (R-Coventry) claims that he has received a death threat against himself and his family for investigating 38 Studios. Chippendale, the secretary for the House Oversight Committee investigating the failed $75 million loan deal for Curt Schilling's 38 Studios, said that he received a threatening letter at his State House office.
"It basically said that I have a beautiful family and I should stop poking around for their sake,” said Chippendale.
A news report on 38 Studios' alleged lobbying of the Rhode Island government prior to its $75 million loan deal in the state has sparked an investigation through the Rhode Island Secretary of State's office, according to WPRI.
Rhode Island State Representative Mike Chippendale, who is also the Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Secretary of House Oversight, has requested that Michael Corso and Sean Esten appear before the Oversight Committee regarding the 38 Studios bond approval deal. The request is for a voluntary appearance before the committee and not a subpoena. Corso's testimony is sought after because he served as lawyer and consultant for 38 Studios, while Esten is a former Financial Portfolio Manager for the RI Economic Development Corporation.
The Rhode Island House Oversight Committee has written a letter to former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling asking him to testify before the committee as it continues its review of the $75 million loan deal that lured his video game company to the state. Chairwoman Karen MacBeth (D-Cumberland) told the Daily Journal on Wednesday that her office sent letters out last week to six other individuals she hopes will come before the panel in May.
Members of the Rhode Island House Oversight Committee said during a hearing on Thursday that they want to hear from former Red Sox pitcher and 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling and ex-Speaker of the House Gordon Fox as part of their ongoing review of the state's deal to lure 38 Studios from Massachusetts to Rhode Island with a $75 million loan guarantee.
The new chairwoman of the House committee that has been looking into the failed 38 Studios deal is holding her first hearing today, according to the Associated Press. Oversight Chairwoman Karen MacBeth has scheduled a hearing later today on issues related to the state’s lawsuit against former Redsox pitcher Curt Schilling and other executives at the now-bankrupt 38 Studios.
Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Ken Block (R) is as pleased as punch that newly-appointed House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has appointed two long-time critics of the 38 Studios loan to leadership positions in the House Oversight Committee.
"They both have records of standing up to the political establishment and fighting against the back room corruption of the 38 Studios deal," Block said of Reps. Karen MacBeth, the new chairwoman, and Spencer Dickinson, the new vice-chairman.
The new Rhode Island Speaker of the House, Nicholas Mattiello, says that he is hopeful that it will not be necessary to subpoena witnesses who were in some way involved in the 38 Studios loan guarantee, the Providence Journal reports.
The new chairwoman of the Rhode Island House Oversight Committee said that she wants to issue subpoenas to key figures in the 38 Studios deal including former House Speaker Gordon Fox. Rep. Karen MacBeth (D-Cumberland) said the committee could also seek to subpoena former House Finance Chairman Steven Costantino, as well as current and former employees of the Economic Development Corp.
MacBeth has been a vocal critic of the deal for quite some time and pushed hard to avoid paying back money owed on bonds related to the 38 Studios loan.
The Rhode Island Economic Development Agency (formerly the Economic Development Corp.) has scheduled a special meeting about its lawsuit against 38 Studios next Monday, according to the Associated Press.