Representative Mike Chippendale (R-Dist.40- Coventry, Foster, Glocester), Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Secretary of House Oversight has requested that Michael Corso, attorney and close friend of former Speaker Gordon Fox and Sean Esten, former Financial Portfolio Manager for the RI Economic Development Corporation, appear before the Oversight Committee to answer questions about the events surrounding the 38 Studios bond approval.
Letters requesting their appearance before the Oversight Committee were mailed this week and they are expected to appear at the next scheduled 38 Studios hearing which is being scheduled for the week to come. The hearing will be posted on the legislature’s web site with the date, time and room number at least 48 hours prior. It is open to the public.
Esten, whose responsibility was to assess the financial “pros and cons” of loaning 75 million dollars to Shilling’s business, 38 Studios, had raised red flags early and often throughout the assessment process. In fact, Chippendale states that Esten’s concerns were “… almost prophetic.”
Rep. Chippendale points out that “Mr. Esten plainly laid out financial concerns that did not require a finance degree for the leadership of the EDC to understand. He correctly pointed to the improbability of a start-up operating on loaned revenue, hitting all the financial milestones in the overly aggressive and frankly unrealistic business plan.”
“I know that all taxpayers will be interested in learning who else within RIEDC Mr. Esten had raised his concerns to in addition to the individuals that we have email documentation on. I think we need to learn if he also shared those concerns with others who had a different role to play in the process. The question for Mr. Esten that quickly comes to mind is; how his analyses were treated by his superiors, whether or not they were acknowledged, debated or just summarily dismissed.”
“I expect that Mr. Esten will be eager to answer this committee’s request. He showed himself to be a responsible employee when he was with the RIEDC, and I would think he wants to clear the air regarding his time at EDC,” Chippendale said.
“Michael Corso certainly would be a valuable witness for the Oversight Committee. Folks who follow Rhode Island politics are likely familiar with this attorneys’ name. Mr. Corso is directly mentioned throughout the 38 Studios documentation, but is also vaguely alluded to in others. I have every reason to believe he is capable of clearly explaining his role in this deal.” continues Chippendale.
Chippendale is explicit about his position and expectations. “Make no mistake, our committee has the power and authority to compel testimony through subpoenas - and we will not hesitate to go that route if we are stonewalled at any juncture by anyone the committee has requested an appearance by,” he said.
Chippendale emphasizes, “This loan package was prepared without the necessary attention to the company’s ability to survive long enough to generate revenue from its product. I owe it to my constituents - and all Rhode Island taxpayers to get answers to the burning questions regarding this fiasco.”
“The RIEDC and all other parties who routinely participated in determining winners and losers for jobs and loan programs in Rhode Island must follow proper procedure. Good public policy dictates that processes and procedures are implemented to protect Rhode Islanders and they must be transparent. The red flags that Mr. Esten raised were never communicated to the members of the House before the vote and that did not benefit Rhode Island. In fact, it’s starting more and more to appear as if it was intended to only benefit the few.” Chippendale closes.
For more information, contact:
Lisa Blais, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903
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