Ex-lawmaker refutes statement by EDC attorney - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Ex-lawmaker refutes statement by EDC attorney

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As the story behind 38 Studios continues to unravel, what people in the know were saying about the deal is coming to light -- and how it contradicts what lawmakers say they were told.

That much is clear from statements contained in some formerly sealed documents.

The state Economic Development Corp., led by Keith Stokes, approved selling $75 million in bonds to bring Curt Schilling and his company to Rhode Island, and that happened in November 2010.

The bond selling program was first introduced to the General Assembly in a supplemental budget in April 2010.

"That is where Article VII was inserted into the supplemental budget," said Larry Ehrhardt, a former Republican state representative from North Kingstown.

But the state Senate killed that budget, and in May, the $125 million bond authorization returned to the House floor.

"They just reached in and took the old Article VII, wrote it as a standalone bill, and Chairman (Steven) Costantino submitted it and it was ordered directly onto the calendar without going to committee," Ehrhardt said.

It went through the House, and then as the session was winding down, it raced through the Senate.

On Tuesday, June 8, 2010, the bill was heard in Senate committee and passed the same day. On June 11, the bill was voted on and passed by the full Senate. Hours later, the bill was sent to Gov. Don Carcieri and signed. It all happened within a week's time.

And during that week, the Economic Development Corp. held an emergency meeting, and the notes obtained by NBC 10 show attorney Rob Stolzman told the directors, "The legislature is aware of the Schilling matter and has done some due diligence."

But Ehrhardt, on the Finance Committee, said there was zero due diligence by lawmakers.

"I have no recollection of a $125 million loan program being discussed in any detail in the Finance Committee," Ehrhardt said.

It seems clear that lawmakers were intentionally left in the dark about the program, regardless of what the EDC directors were told.

What remains unclear is who first dreamed it up.

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