Rhode Island state police plan to interview the lawmakers who voted on the job creation plan resulting in the the $75 million state-backed loan given to now-defunct developer 38 Studios, reports the Boston Herald.
R.I. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said that on Tuesday he was contacted by state police about the issue. Police "informed that they would like to ask questions of every member, past and present, who participated in the voting" on the program. Mattiello said he would be passing along phone numbers of involved lawmakers to police, unless there are any objections — to which one representative did. Mattiello also said in a later interview that he is "thrilled" state police have joined the investigation and is confident in the probe.
In a statement, state police head Col. Steven O'Donnell said that no one is outright suspected of wrongdoing "simply because of their vote." O'Donnell along with state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin previously announced that they were conducting a criminal investigation into 38 Studios, and on Wednesday O'Donnell said the investigation is still ongoing.
Contacting lawmakers involved in the vote, O'Donnell said, will "ensure that anyone with information, who has not been previously contacted, has the opportunity to present it." Kilmartin initially supported the loan guarantee, but O'Donnell said he is confident Kilmartin has no conflict in the case.
Currently, the state of Rhode Island owes more than $89 million over the 38 Studios bond, which was approved in 2010. In summer 2012, 38 Studios declared bankruptcy and shuttered its doors. The former Economic Development Corp., which approved the guarantee, is now suing studio founder and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and 13 others, stating the board was misled.
The next bond payment related to 38 Studios totals $12.3 million, which some lawmakers and state groups have outwardly spoken against repaying.