PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Former Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri said Thursday that the state could have done more to save former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's now-failed video game company once he left the governor's office and Gov. Lincoln Chafee took over.
In his first in-depth interview since 38 Studios' collapse, Carcieri told WPRI-TV that he takes responsibility for the $75 million loan guarantee given to the company by the state's economic development agency. He said a "big part" of the blame for the company's failure must go to Schilling and the company's management, but he questioned whether the state — under the leadership of Chafee — did enough to help the company stay afloat.
"I will take responsibility for approving the deal," said Carcieri, a Republican. "What I don't know, and I question, is did it fail because it just needed some more money, or did it fail because they (38 Studios managers) didn't know what they were doing. ... That doesn't look like what happened."
38 Studios was lured to Rhode Island from Massachusetts in 2010 after Rhode Island offered a $75 million loan guarantee the state said would help bring hundreds of jobs and millions in tax revenue. Chafee and others criticized the loan guarantee at the time. The company laid of its nearly 300 employees in May and filed for bankruptcy in June, potentially leaving the state on the hook for some $100 million.
Chafee, an independent, took issue with Carcieri's comments, saying that while he had deep concerns about the deal before he took office, he did everything he could to support 38 Studios when he became governor. He said the deal should never have been approved.
"This was such a risky deal to start with," Chafee said, adding Schilling was "someone who had never even run a lemonade stand."
Carcieri said the state should have looked for ways to help the company and that giving them film tax credits to help leverage private investment "might have been the right thing to do."
Chafee defended his administration's decision not to grant the credits, which 38 Studios sought to stay afloat. He said he couldn't support additional incentives for the company without some indication that it could be viable.
Carcieri also questioned the state's oversight of the deal after he left office, noting that when he was governor the Economic Development Corp. board received regular updates on 38 Studios.
"Nobody should have been surprised in April this year that the company was out of money," he said. "And if they were, that's shocking."
Chafee said Thursday that he regularly attended EDC board meetings and stayed up to date on the company's progress. He said state leaders were "shocked" when they learned of 38 Studios' financial problems, which came to light when the company missed a scheduled $1.125 million payment to the EDC that was due May 1.
Schilling has blamed Chafee for not doing more to help his company. On Thursday, in a message on Twitter, he agreed with Carcieri that the state should not have been surprised to hear of 38 Studios' problems. He said no one "lifted a finger" to help.
"This was a hundred million dollar ... 'I told you so,' and nothing more," Schilling tweeted, in an apparent reference to Chafee. "Terrifying, but true."