More Delays in 38 Studios Lobbying Hearings

The Providence Journal reports that a hearing looking into 38 Studios' lobbying activities prior to securing the now-infamous $75 million loan from the state of Rhode Island, has been delayed to late-August.

The hearing is part of an inquiry by current Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis and the Rhode Island State Police. But those who are the focus of those hearings say that Mollis is playing politics because he is running for Lt. Governor and wants to keep the issue in the spotlight through the Democratic primary.

The hearing is looking into the activities of attorney Michael Corso, who Mollis contends lobbied state lawmakers and other state officials to push the loan deal for 38 Studios – but he did so without registering with the Secretary of State's office as a lobbyist.

The Secretary of State's office says that the latest delay relates to preserving evidence with the Superior Court and forcing principles in the deal to give depositions.

According to a petition filed on July 25 in the Superior Court , Mollis is seeking authorization to take depositions from several former 38 Studios executives including founder and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, former president Bill Thomas, and former board member Thomas Zaccagnino. Mollis also wants to get former state Economic Development Corporation executive director Keith D. Stokes on the record as well.

The petition also seeks depositions from employees at The Providence Journal. A hearing on that petition is set for August 18.

Mollis' hearing on lobbying has been pushed to August 26.

Corso attorney Anthony Traini says that the Secretary of State has not conducted an investigation prior to or since he decided to hold hearings, and that the delays reflect that fact. He further contends that these delays are being used to deliberately keep this issue in the public eye until the Democratic primary election in September.

"It is absolutely clear that the secretary did not conduct any investigation prior to noticing this hearing and is now trying to conduct an investigation in the middle of the hearing," Traini said the Providence Journal.

"While Mr. Traini is throwing that accusation, if Mr. Corso had just shown up for the first hearing, we wouldn’t be asking for continuances," Mollis told the Providence Journal. "It’s funny. If I didn’t attempt to enforce this law, they’d say it’s political, and I’m trying to do my job, and they’re saying this is political."

Source: Providence Journal

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