How many times have we heard our incumbent legislators tell us that they had no idea the $75 million addition to the EDC was for 38 Studios? Many times. Even Senator Daniel DaPonte, the Senate Finance Chairman, claimed during his Newsmakers debate that this was done “above my pay grade.”
In the first hour on the Dan Yorke Show, Dan is playing audio from the Summit debate between Gordon Fox and Mark Binder. Fox is answering a question about the 38 Studios debacle and even states that legislators are saying that they didn’t know, but that it was in all the newspapers. He even said, “Everyone knew.”
So there you go. The Speaker is telling us that the General Assembly knew who the $75M was going to be for, in spite of many of them telling us otherwise. Who’s lying?
Update: State Rep. Jon Brien called in to deny any knowledge that the legislators were aware that the money was earmarked for 38 Studios, along with a very detailed timeline of the events.
Update: State Rep. Rene Menard called in to also deny knowledge. He added that then-Finance Chairman Steven Costantino was questioned about where the $75M was going to go. Menard said Costantino told them that it was going to be dispersed in one to two million dollars to small businesses.
Update: State Rep. J. Patrick O’Neill called in to also deny knowledge. Said they were merely told that Schilling wanted to bring his company to RI, but there was never any mention of money or amounts. O’Neill claims that Fox was “one of five” people involved in the direct negotiations. Recounted Rep. Larry Ehrhardt offering an amendment to the $75M bill that would have capped the amount to any one business at $10M. Ehrhardt was asked to withdraw the amendment by Keith Stokes, without explanation as to why.
Update: State Rep. Charlene Lima called in to also deny knowledge. Said she questioned who the money was for and where was the transparency. She voted against it in the supplemental budget but then voted in favor of the $75M by thinking that some would go to small businesses in her district.
Update: On Newsmakers, Fox explained that this money was not “earmarked” because that would have been in violation of Separation of Powers. His explanation is the Assembly merely agreed to increase the program by $75M and then it was up to the EDC to decide how it was dispersed. (Starting at 14:00)
Update: Gordon Fox’s campaign spokesman Bill Fischer came on to explain that Speaker Fox is not claiming that all legislators knew the $75 million was intended solely for 38 Studios. Fischer additionally stated that not even Fox knew that 38 Studios would get the $75 million. Fischer stated it was up to the EDC to decide what amount that 38 Studios would receive. Fischer announced that oversight hearings will begin during the next legislative session.