Here comes the second part of our recent Chat with Representative Lauren Carson (D-District 75, Newport), in the first part of our conversation we spoke at length about 38 Studios, Tourism, why she believes Newport needs a Grant Writer and some other Newport city administration topics.
In Part 2, we start off with wrapping up 38 studios, before diving into small business, tourism and the ways she hopes to help the retail industry.
RB: Representative Carson did we hit everything you wanted (in Part 1) on 38 Studios? Actually, before I ask you that…has there been any communication from the Governor on how she wants you to act on this?
LC: Nothing, we went over the tax credits. We went over the film tax credits.
RB: Is that normal for her not to issue or is…
LC: I think she has called for the release of the documents in the past 3 or 4 weeks. GoLocalProv has a list of everyone that has called for the documents to be released.
So they tried to get film credits, they tried to get film credits as a way to patch over some money that they needed.
(Going through all the paperwork)
Then we went over the moral obligation debt, you know it was moral obligation bonds. We had the auditor come in, we had RIPEC come in and they explained to us what moral obligations were.
THIS IS the statute for subpoena power. I’m going through my documents, this is what the house has in terms for subpoena power. It’s very legal worded, you can read it.
RB: This is not easy to read.
LC: We have so many e-mails you would not believe it.
RB: Do you think you’re given enough time to read all this?
LC: (Pause) They do give it to us on the spot but what I do with my study commission is I ask for it two days in advance. I think it should be distributed then and that’s for all my committees.
RB: How many pages are here?
LC: Well there’s two reams of paper here. We have tons of e-mails, like here’s the e-mails between Curt Schilling and Keith Stokes dated 6 1/2 years ago. We have so many e-mails, more e-mails, we went through all of these. There all exhibits.
(Flips through all the exhibits and reads some of the examples of what was documented)
LC: We had Stephen Constantino come before us, he was Chair of the Finance Committee at the time when they packaged the job creation act. I serve with his brother.
He came, he replied to the subpoena when we issued them. He lives in Vermont now, I give him credit for doing that. He testified for hours and I think he was honest until a very point in his testimony that I questioned. Apparently in March of 2009 a group of people went to see Curt Schilling’s outfit in Massachusetts and he was one of them and, maybe it was 2010. So they went up to look at his existing business operations and what could possibly be brought to Rhode Island, and we asked him who was in the car. Trying to get at the conversation, and the only time I questions him he said he didn’t remember what they talked about in the car.
I found kind of hard to believe. I said if you’re car with 3 other people and you’re on a road trip to do work, I don’t remember who was in the car with him, he was like (and I’d have to look that up if you wanted to know that, this is all public information) and that was the only time I questioned it, the only time I questioned him. That may have been a question and not in his testimony.
Then we went through all the audits of the money, the question I had about the money … of the $75 million, $15 million of it (and I don’t know if I can find it here, this quickly) really did not go to job development and that’s something that I was concerned about. Like $12 million went to renovate the building they moved into, that is a problem. He was supposed to use this money to create jobs, instead the building got renovated to accommodate the business on Empire Street.
RB: Paid for with taxpayer money..
LC: So whoever owns that building got all those upgrades on taxpayers money, that I had a problem with. There was another member of the committee that was interested in that also, he and I questioned it but then the Committee abruptly ended and we couldn’t pursue it.
(Continues flipping through pages, reads some of the testimony from Seth Magaziner)
LC: Seth Magaziner’s testimony was really good, he came in 2016 and went over all the tax credit programs and how they work, how you sell them, how you trade them, options to make them ore efficent. And really, we never did this. This would of been stuff that could have been legislative remedies or legislative policy could of came out of it, we were very interested in this.
Maybe next year, this stuff isn’t necessarily my expertise, will go into looking into this. Seth had some really good ideas of taking the middle man out, because Corso made a lot of money on trades, because there’s a middle man that sells them. Part of his recommendations, and I’m abbreviating it, is to take the middleman out and let the state sell them, so that we keep the state tax payer dollars.
RB: What do you think there will be for commissions in the new session regarding 38 Studios?
LC: I have no idea. Pat Serpa says she’s going to continue hearing stuff.
RB: So there will probably be a 38 commission…
LC: Well there will be oversight, so then we had more and more obligations, this came from RIPEC, which is very objective. Then we had the timeline, this is a fabulous document, this is a really good document.
RB: The timeline is like 50 pages long
LC: This is only part 1 of it, this is part 2
RB: So 100 pages long
LC: So what the, the staff did all this for us.
RB: There’s so much taxpayer money just going into documenting it all.
LC: She read through hours and hours of stuff. What she did is she went through all the documents that were identified before I got there, then she numbered them and she said who was in it, what it was, what the date was, what the summary was, what the importance is and what’s notable about it.
Now in this case, it was non disclosure agreements between Gordon Fox and Former Speaker Murphy. It shows that Gordon Fox they had contact with 38 Studios as early as 2009, and Michael Corso also signed an agreement that day. That probably should not have happened.
(Points to Gordon Fox’s name) But he’s in jail, so at least some people pay for some of this.
(Continues going through paperwork and gives details)
We went through pages of these.
RB: A lot of this proves that people knew what they were doing was wrong
LC: That’s why i’m telling you, what i’m saying. There was some, I think based on this, a group of 20 people that knew what they were doing. But they haven’t found anything criminal yet, that’s the key.
(Continues to flip through contracts, second set of documents)
I said to the woman yesterday at the office, look at all this paperwork, what could be left?
RB: That’s what I’m wondering, what’s left to be released? Just the paperwork involved in investigation?
LC: I don’t know what’s left. But you know what if the public really wants to see everything and it doesn’t jeopardize the case going forward and it’s legal to that, then let the public see it.
RB: But you think they should wait until the investigations over?
LC: Yes, don’t jeopardize the investigation.
LC: Let’s talk about Broadway for a minute, what’s happened on Broadway.
Listen to that Broadway and shopping conversation here…