Speaker: Issuing subpoenas would be ‘fruitless’

(photo: WPRI 12)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — Rhode Island’s House speaker says it would be “fruitless” to issue subpoenas to those who have declined to testify before the Oversight Committee as it reviews the 38 Studios debacle.

Nicholas Mattiello said Friday that everyone who was asked to appear voluntarily has declined through attorneys. He says it doesn’t make sense to issue subpoenas because the same people will continue to decline.

38 Studios founder Curt Schilling and ex-Economic Development Corp. chief Keith Stokes are among those called to testify.

After hearing of Mattiello’s decision, State Rep. Karen MacBeth told Eyewitness News she was shocked and very disappointed. As the head of the House Oversight Commission, she’s been investigating the deal that lured Schilling’s video game company to Rhode Island with a $75-million loan guarantee, as well as the company’s downfall that left taxpayers on the hook for more than $90 million.

“We had sent letters out to people that the committee decided we wanted them to come before us in committee, and some of those letters have been answered, and the people don’t want to come in front of us,” she said. “So the next step would be to issue subpoenas, and that’s not under my authority. That’s under the speaker’s authority.”

Mattiello called the House a legislative body, not an investigative one, and cited ongoing criminal investigations. State police and the attorney general have an active probe.

“It’s certainly not going to stop what we do on this committee,” MacBeth added. “While I think that the speaker and I both agree that we are going to get the answers for the people, I think right now there’s a difference about how we’re going to go about doing that.”

The speaker supports the release of depositions in the lawsuit over 38 Studios’ collapse. A request is pending before the judge.

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