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.
Chairwoman Karen MacBeth convened the meeting to decide who might be called to testify and to discuss a request for documents in the state's lawsuit over Schilling's now-defunct and bankrupt video game company. In addition to Schilling and Fox, the panel said it would like to hear from former Republican Gov. Don Carcieri; Sean Esten, an economic development agency employee who raised concerns about the loan prior to its approval; attorney Michael Corso; and former Finance Committee Chairman Steven Costantino, who originally sponsored the legislation that created the loan guarantee program under which 38 Studios got the funding.
The House and Senate Oversight committees have been looking into the approval by the then-Economic Development Corp. in 2010 of a $75 million loan guarantee for 38 Studios, which later went bankrupt. The state is on the hook for some $90 million related to the transaction.
Earlier in the month MacBeth said she wanted to subpoena key figures, but has since backed off that stance, saying witnesses would first be asked to appear voluntarily.
While she said subpoena power would be used as a last resort, she warned that the option was not off the table:
"You are not going to be able to stop me from getting the answers."
Speaker Nicholas Matielllo has also expressed reservations about the necessity for subpoenas. MacBeth and Senate Oversight Chairman James Sheehan are also seeking the public release of depositions and other exhibits in the case. Principals in the case are due in court today to argue about the release of depositions. Depending on how that goes, the need to call witnesses might be lessened.
We will have more on this story as it develops.