38 Studios Fiasco May Be Defining Issue in RI AG Race

According to a Go Local Providence report, one of the defining issues in the campaign that could hurt Rhode Island Attorney General (D) Peter F. Kilmartin is the 38 Studios loan deal, which he voted for while in the General Assembly. His opponent, Dawson Hodgson (R) doesn't have the financial resources that his opponent has, but political experts in the state say that plenty of incumbents who voted for the 38 Studios loan deal will have to face hard questions from opponents and voters in order to retain their respective positions.

"Hodgson could make some headway by pressing his arguments about the need to dig deeper into the 38 Studios scandal," said former Providence Journal Political Columnist M. Charles Bakst.

"Hodgson's claim is that Kilmartin was the Majority Whip who got the vote for 38 Studios and then didn't do any investigations [as Attorney General]," adds former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci.

He went on to say that Kilmartin needs to make himself more available to the media because the public needs to see more of him prior to the election. Not doing so could hurt him in the long run.

He also noted that the 38 Studios deal will have to be addressed by Kilmartin.

"I think 38 Studios will be a defining issue in every single election," Cianci added.

Pete Kavanaugh, a partner at Hilltop Public Solutions, who is advising Kilmartin, would not comment on 38 Studios, saying only that "we don't consider 38 Studios to be a campaign issue."

"I think it's important to go back to the promises he made and the platform he ran on in 2009-2010. The three key things were enhancing economic security, protecting public safety, and helping restore public trust in the government," Kavanaugh said.

Kilmartin currently has $154,000 in campaign funds, compared to his opponent's $21,717, but Hodgson – as one would expect a candidate to do – said that those funds aren't as important as the millions lost in the 38 Studios deal.

"It's a multifaceted scandal. It's about accountability, justice and a matter of exercising our fiduciary responsibility to the people," Hodgson said.

Whether the issue will resonate with voters remains to be seen, but Hodgson is running hard on this issue:

"The AG voted for the 38 Studios project as a rep. He is, in fact, partially responsible for this. Unlike the other legislators who were part of this he's the only one who six months later became the attorney general. He could have done something about this."

Hodgson added that if he had been the Attorney General, he would have convened an investigative grand jury: "a fact-finding and truth-seeking exercise that is a powerful tool that only the AG and the US Attorney have at their disposal" – and that he would be lead counsel in any civil action related to 38 Studios, as well as the current lawsuit.

Source: Go Local Providence

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