Raimondo signs law to release 38 Studios docs

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Gina Raimondo on Wednesday signed a bill into law requiring the disclosure of documents from the 38 Studios criminal investigation, and said she will fight Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s efforts to delay the release of the material.

State Rep. Charlene Lima, D-Cranston, successfully pushed legislation through the General Assembly earlier this year requiring documents from the investigation of the failed video-game company to be released even if they were presented to a grand jury.

But Kilmartin has strongly objected to the documents’ release, citing the importance of grand-jury secrecy. In June he successfully petitioned Superior Court Justice Robert Krause to issue a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of the bill. His spokeswoman, Amy Kempe, said at the time the order would “allow the state to seek a legal determination as to what is required and what is prohibited from being released.”

On Wednesday, Kempe said, “The next step is for parties to meet with the court to set a schedule to address the issue of what documents can be released in accordance with the statute and court rules.”

Among the specific documents Kilmartin asked to keep sealed: correspondence between his office and R.I. State Police detectives, as well as with lawyers for potential witnesses in the case. His lawyers also singled out “grand jury material deemed confidential,” and said the General Assembly cannot override Superior Court rules.

After signing the bill, Raimondo said she would immediately file a formal objection to Judge Krause’s order.

“I was against 38 Studios from the very beginning and believe that Rhode Islanders deserve to know what happened,” Raimondo said in a statement. “It’s time for Attorney General Kilmartin to stop opposing the will of the people, and to disclose all 38 Studios investigation records that his office has done everything to block from public view.”

Kempe, Kilmartin’s spokeswoman, offered a sharply different view. She insisted the attorney general “has not been opposed to the release of documents” but has only sought guidance on how to do so appropriately.

“The governor is attempting to upend centuries of jurisprudence and precedence for political purposes, and that needs to be properly addressed in the appropriate forum, which is the courts,” she said.

Kempe also criticized State Police Col. Ann Assumpico for refusing to keep open the years-long 38 Studios criminal investigation. (Kilmartin and Assumpico’s predecessor said more than a year ago there was no basis for charges, but Kilmartin later said he wanted to keep his options open.) And she noted Raimondo has reneged on a 2014 campaign promise to order an independent investigation into 38 Studios.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook