Former House Finance chairman Steve Costantino said through his lawyer Wednesday that he's willing to return to Rhode Island to answer questions about the state's ill-fated investment in the video game company 38 Studios.
"Mr. Costantino is aware of the intent of the committee you chair to have him appear for testimony on January 14, 2016," lawyer Marc DeSisto writes in a letter to Oversight Chairwoman Karen MacBeth. "I have been authorized by Mr. Costantino to advise you that he is willing to appear and testify before your committee without the need to utilize a subpoena."
DeSisto, who represents Costantino as conflict counsel for the attorney general's office, asked MacBeth for background material to help the former Finance chairman prepare, including "DVDs of all of the hearings and floor debates related to the applicable bill/budget article."
Depositions released by the state in September pointed to Costantino as the person who raised by $75 million funding in a legislative job guaranty program later used by the state Economic Development Corporation to attract 38 Studios. In his own depositions, Costantino said he couldn't remember many details related to the increase in funding. In a statement at the time, he also said he had nothing to do with the deal with 38 Studios beyond legislative activity.
In his letter to MacBeth, DeSisto wrote that Costantino "is prepared to respond to serious and relevant questions just as he did at his deposition."
Costantino wielded influence over the state budget as Finance chairman before placing third in a 2010 run for mayor of Providence. A member of the family that owns Venda Ravioli on Federal Hill, he was appointed in February to lead Vermont's publicly funded insurance program. His brother, Gregory, is a state rep from Lincoln.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello this week signed subpoenas for Costantino and Michael Corso, a lawyer who was at the center of the 38 Studios deal. In an interview with RIPR, Mattiello defended the Oversight Committee's examination of 38 Studios.
"It’s absolutely not window-dressing," the speaker said. "They’re very important hearings. But from an investigative point of view you look to the State Police, you look to the attorney general, you look to grand juries. Those are the bodies that we have in place that are designed to do this."
Meanwhile, Curt Schilling, the former owner of 38 Studios, used his blog to say he hasn't been served with a subpoena recently approved by House Oversight and signed by Mattiello.
Schilling used his blog post to return fire at some of his critics and to repeat earlier statements that he'll be willing to speak broadly about 38 Studios following the conclusion of the lawsuit launched by former governor Lincoln Chafee.
38 Studios went bankrupt in 2012 after being attracted to Rhode Island with a $75 million state loan guaranty. Taxpayers remain on the hook for millions of dollars due to the company's failure.