By William Hamilton
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE - Gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee made a last-ditch effort Monday to talk to the R.I. Economic Development Corporation board of directors, waiting outside the EDC offices for Gov. Donald L. Carcieri to arrive at the board’s monthly meeting.
It was for naught.
After a quick handshake, Carcieri waved off Chafee’s face-to-face request to talk to the EDC board members about the $75 million loan guarantee they had approved last month to woo 38 Studios LLC, the Massachusetts video game company owned by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, to Rhode Island. Carcieri told Chafee that the answer was the same as the one the governor had given him in an exchange of letters last week: No.
Chafee didn’t bother going into the public meeting, but campaign representative Stephen P. Erickson, a retired district court judge, hand delivered a letter to EDC attorney Robert Stolzman, raising legal questions about the meeting agenda’s reference to executive session. Erickson first had attempted to give the letter to Carcieri as he walked into the EDC offices, but the governor refused to take it.
The controversial loan guarantee has become an issue in the gubernatorial race, in which Chafee, an independent, is running against Democrat General Treasurer Frank Caprio, Republicans John Robitaille and Victor Moffitt and Moderate Party candidate Ken Block, who on Monday filed a request for public documents on the guarantee.
All the candidates have raised questions about the agreement, in which the state will be on the hook for up to $75 million in loans if 38 Studios defaults. The deal is contingent on the company bringing hundreds of jobs to Rhode Island.
Characterizing the arrangement as risky, Chafee has criticized the EDC for approving such a big guarantee for one company.
After confronting Carcieri - who cannot run for governor again because of term limits - before the meeting, Chafee said he had hoped the governor would allow him to speak in an effort to keep the process open. But he acknowledged that the chances were “slim to none … and slim just left.”
Following the meeting, Carcieri noted that the EDC board had two public meetings to discuss the loan guarantee, and Chafee had met with EDC Executive Director Keith W. Stokes twice.
Chafee had “plenty of opportunity to have his voice heard,” the governor said.