House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Karen MacBeth said Tuesday she believes Michael Corso never registered as a lobbyist because a so-called "success fee" in his arrangement with 38 Studios would have violated state lobbying law.
MacBeth wants State Police and the Attorney General's office to review the matter.
"If I’m wrong, the worst that could happen is this committee comes up with legislation to make those laws stronger," MacBeth said after a committee meeting. "But in reading the laws, [Corso] was a lobbyist. He fits all the criteria for a lobbyist. He knew not to register."
Recently released court documents show that Corso, who was at the center of the 38 Studios deal when it came together, received more than $2 million as part of a 5 percent fee-based arrangement with the company, and that he could have made up to $3.75 million.
Lawyers for Corso aggressively fought an attempt to make him retroactively register as a lobbyist. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea ultimately decided to drop the case earlier this year because, she said, weaknesses in the state's lobbying law made victory in court unlikely.
MacBeth offered this explanation for why Corso was opposed to registering as a lobbyist, despite the possibility of a fine. “Even with the threat of $2000, he wouldn’t do it," she said, "and the reason he wouldn’t do it is because of the $2 million that he had made.” State law prohibits lobbyists from profiting from the passage or defeat of bills, or any related action by the General Assembly.
Corso was a leading tax credit broker and he was close to former House speaker Gordon Fox, who is now in prison in an unrelated corruption case.
Corso lawyer Michael Lepizzera has stated that Corso suffered financially from 38 Studios.