But lawmakers fail in their push for an independent counsel to look at the $75 million state loan.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The bipartisan group of Rhode Island House lawmakers that pushed unsuccessfully for an independent counsel to look at the state-guaranteed loan for former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s company say they did so because an oversight panel has been stymied in its own efforts.
Rep. Patricia Morgan, R-Coventry, introduced an amendment during Thursday’s marathon budget debate calling for an independent prosecutor to probe how video game startup 38 Studios got a $75 million loan. That would include the role of the General Assembly, which in 2010 hurriedly authorized the program under which the loan guarantee was made. Rhode Island’s economic development agency is suing Schilling and 13 others, claiming its board was misled into approving the deal.
“The people want to shine a light on what happened with this bond – why it happened, who did it, who had their hand in the money pot,” said Morgan.
“The oversight committees have been throttled,” she said. “They have not been given the powers that they need to get the answers.”
House Oversight Chairwoman Karen MacBeth, D-Cumberland, supported the measure and likewise criticized the House leadership for not allowing subpoenas.
She said she believed she would have that power when she was appointed chair in March by the new speaker, Nicholas Mattiello. MacBeth and others have accused the former House leadership of lying to representatives at the time the loan guarantee program was passed; it was not disclosed that 38 Studios stood to get $75 million.
Vice Chair Spencer Dickinson, D-South Kingstown, said voters “don’t want a shoddy, slow-paced, maybe cut-off-at-the-knees Oversight Committee.”