Former Rhode Island Lawmaker Says He Was Used to Legitimatize Bill That Funded 38 Studios Deal

Jon Brien was surprised when Steven Costantino, the chairman of the Rhode Island House Finance Committee asked him on the House floor to if he wanted to co-sponsor a big jobs bill in 2010. Brien, who was a state representative at the time, was on the outs with leadership after voting against House Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox in the mid-session election of a new speaker that year. He was on talk radio often, lambasting House Democratic leaders and their allies for alleged "political shenanigans."

"I was quite the bomb thrower … couldn’t get a bill passed that said, ‘today is Friday,’" Brien said during a series of recent interviews.

"All of a sudden, the chairman of finance is coming to me and saying: ‘Hey, we know you’ve been working hard on [economic-development] bills. We want you to sign this. And we’re going to put your bill on it because that is a great idea, too.'"

Brien, a Democrat who represented Woonsocket, ended up as one of the three cosponsors of the "Jobs Creation Loan Guaranty" that has been associated with the failed 38 Studios deal. Ultimately, sponsoring that bill cost him his House seat.

But Brien says that no one in the leadership in Providence has sent him a subpoena, despite being only one of three people that sponsored the bill.

And while he admits that he wouldn't have a lot to say, he would tell anyone who will listen that he was "used as cover" to lend legitimacy to the bill, without anyone telling him that $75 million was already earmarked for 38 Studios.

Although no one involved in the civil or criminal probes has contacted Brien, the House Oversight Committee has asked him to testify voluntarily. He plans on doing just that.

"Every day more facts about 38 Studios come to light, and the public deserves to know the truth about what really happened," he says.

The Providence Journal has more here on what Brien thought the jobs bill was going to be and what it would end up being by the time it managed to become a reality…

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