RI House Oversight Committee Continues 38 Studios Investigation in Early 2014

The Rhode Island General Assembly is on recess until January, and while lawmakers in the state have kicked around a lot of contentious issues in the days leading up to the break, one committee has been silent since its last meeting in September: the House Oversight Committee’s review of the 38 Studios loan deal.

But Committee Chairman Michael J. Marcello (D-Scituate) assures the Providence Journal that the fact finding investigation into the 38 Studios loan deal made by the quasi-public Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. is far from over. He told the publication on Tuesday that he will resume hearings on the deal in January, with tentative plans to wrap things up and offer a report early in the new legislative session.

The hearings will focus on testimony from former EDC Director Keith Stokes and other current and former senior-level staff at the EDC. Marcello has no plans to call current and former lawmakers before the committee – not that the body has the power to subpoena them in the first place. Marcello also said that the committee held off on calling witnesses because of the ongoing lawsuit filed by the state against former EDC and 38 Studios executives.

"It’s still my intention to call witnesses," he told the Providence Journal. "But it’s important to remember that the Oversight Committee isn’t a grand jury. It has no power to charge people with crimes or allege wrongdoing. It is a purely fact-finding commission to determine what happened at EDC once the loan guarantee was approved. What comes of that will hopefully color the legislative process in the future."

Finally, Marcello believes the committee’s findings will be useful for the Assembly as it tackles the next loan payment authorization related to the 38 Studios debt – which is at around $112.6 million. This year lawmakers authorized a payment towards the debt of over $2 million.

Source: Providence Journal

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