A 38 Studios investigation? Not!
Finally, the long-awaited release of records, well, sort of…from the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) of its 38 Studios investigation hit the streets. I wondered where had my beloved RISP disappeared with this sham of a disclosure. Apparently, the present Colonel, Ann Assumpico, who was not the superintendent at the time, agrees. None of the 38 Studios senate interview transcripts were released, making one wonder whether any senators were even questioned once Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said she met with Curt Shilling but told none of her colleagues about the legislation.
Then, there is the absence of transcripts from former Speaker Bill Murphy who stopped the cops in their tracks because he said he was representing miscreant Gordon Fox. What does that have to do with questioning him about HIS activities? Also missing were any transcripts of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin who was a top honcho in the General Assembly at the time. The latest news is that the then-head of RISP spoke to him and found nothing nefarious. No oath. No transcript.
Thetranscript of a sponsor of the 38 Studios bill, Former House Finance Chair Helio Melo, was missing. Ditto for former House Finance Chair Raymond Gallison, former republican leader Joseph Trillo, former Rep. Peter Petrarca, and Rep. Brian Newbury. Dealmaker Michael Corso was not interviewed. Query whether these transcripts even exist.
The excuse may be that their statements went to the grand jury, but that practice is shoddy. Live witnesses should be called and put under oath. Here, statements were purely voluntary without any pain of perjury since none of them were sworn. Perhaps there is even more to the objection by the attorney general to release the grand jury testimony. While Mr. Kilmartin may be protecting his former cronies, it could be that he is protecting himself by such a slapstick presentation.
Governor Gina Raimondo has asked the court to release the grand jury records while the attorney general has objected, even though months ago he kissed goodbye to any indictments. Now a superior court judge will decide. Given how this case has played out I can’t help but wonder if this is just a “good cop” (Ms. Raimondo) vs. the “bad cop”(Mr. Kilmartin) putting on a “wink wink” show for John Q. Citizen so the judge will give cover to both of them by upholding the prerogatives of the office of attorney general and thus block that information from becoming public. The judge, however, should allow the release so the thoroughness of the so-called 4 year investigation (which now looks more like a 4 hour one) can be assessed.
With all the yakking about bringing companies to Rhode Island, they’d have to be nuts to come to a state which stays up late at night figuring out how to obscure the truth from its own residents. It is laughable to watch the machinations of faking “accountability” while the maneuvering is to shroud the truth and let legislators off the hook.
Ms. Raimondo reneged on her campaign promise to have an independent investigation because it might be expensive and the public would learn nothing. Of course, citizens have learned very little as a result of this feigned transparency to date other than what appears to be a fiasco. The real costly results will be companies who stay away because of this political two-step and citizen cynicism.
Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.