House Speaker Gordon Fox is distancing himself from responsibility for the demise of 38 Studios.
During a taping today of WPRI/WNAC-TV’s Newsmakers and during a subsequent interview with me, Fox said he supported expanding the loan guarantee program that helped bring 38 Studios to Rhode Island as a way to bolster Rhode Island’s troubled economy.
Fox has been identified, with former governor Don Carcieri and tax credit broker Michael Corso, a friend of Fox’s, as part of a small group of inside players who paved the way for 38 Studios to come to Rhode Island.
But Fox says the state Economic Development Corporation’s loan-guarantee program wasn’t expanded with 38 Studios exclusively in mind.
“It wasn’t necessarily the program was built and designed for 38 Studios, so I want to dispel that, that somehow that program was a mandate or an earmark, that 38 Studios was going to get $75 million,” Fox told me.
“It [38 Studios] was obviously qualified [for consideration in the loan program]. I mean, it was vetted at the EDC, not at the General Assembly in terms of the particulars of the program.
But we were never at the table looking at financials or the soundness of the company of Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios’ company, nor would that have been appropriate for us to do that.
That was the [EDC] board members looking at that, the experts, if you will, that you rely on to vet that who actually have to approve it or not approve it, or approve 75 million or less than that or even more than that.”
Governor Chafee said earlier this week he first became aware of problems at 38 Studios during an April 13 meeting he attended with Fox. The governor said he hadn’t been in touch with the company since the fall of 2011.