On a 9-0 margin, the House Oversight Committee voted Thursday to seek a subpoena meant to spur State House testimony by Curt Schilling about his ill-fated video game company, 38 Studios. Yet the committee's counsel, Charles Knowles, told the panel that a court in Massachusetts, where Schilling resides, is unlikely to recognize the subpoena.
State Rep. Karen MacBeth (D-Cumberland), who chairs the committee, said there's value in issuing the subpoena, even if it doesn't succeed in the short-term in causing testimony by Schilling.
"As far as I know, [this is] the first time that a committee has moved to bring a subpoena or the suggestion of a subpoena to the speaker," she said ahead of the vote, "and I think that shows that we're here to do the job that we said we're going to do. And whether he comes now, or whether he comes when the lawsuit is over, I think he will be in front of this committee."
The subpoena requires approval by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. Mattiello spokesman Larry Berman said Mattiello plans to sign the document Friday.
Schilling, a former Red Sox star, is among a series of defendants being sued by the state, in an attempt to recover losses from the 2012 bankruptcy of 38 Studios. The failure of the company, which had been lured to Rhode Island with a $75 million loan guaranty in 2010, left taxpayers on the hook for more than $100 million.
Schilling tweeted earlier this week that he'd be willing to speak openly about 38 Studios once the lawsuit initiated by former governor Lincoln Chafee is over, or as he put it, "once Chaffee's charade of litigation goes to the dump."
In a letter to MacBeth dated November 11, a lawyer for Schilling, Edward J. Hayes, cited the state's lawsuit in explaining why "Mr. Schilling respectfully declines your request for him to appear at any hearings."
If and when Schilling testifies, "Certainly, his story will come out of this," MacBeth told RIPR, "and I think it will fill in pieces of the timeline that we don't have."
"He has a perspective that's unique to anybody else," MacBeth said. "He was there from the beginning and he knows who was in those meetings and what was said, and I think that's important. And I think it's important that he has time to tell the people of the state what he knows."
During a brief explanation of legislative subpoenas, Knowles said a legislative committee is "not a tribunal that has authority to issue orders." In terms of whether an out of state court would recognize a subpoena backed by the committee, "The short answer is somewhere between no and probably not."
This post has been updated.