- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee was rebuffed Monday in his effort to address a state agency about his opposition to a $75 million loan guarantee approved for former baseball star Curt Schilling’s video game development company.

Chafee, a former U.S. senator who is running for governor as an independent, had hoped to speak at the board meeting of the state Economic Development Corporation, which last month approved the loan guarantee to bring 38 Studios from Maynard, Mass., to Rhode Island.

The company, founded by Schilling, the former All-Star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, promises to bring 450 jobs to the state by the end of 2012. Proponents, including Gov. Don Carcieri, say the company’s relocation to downtown Boston could help revitalize Rhode Island’s foundering economy, tap into the brainpower of technology-minded local college graduates and give the state an investment in an emerging growth industry.

The candidate’s appearance at the meeting, albeit an example of political theater, underscored how the loan guarantee has emerged as a hot-button issue in the governor’s race. Chafee and other critics see the deal as too risky, especially since 38 Studios does not have a proven track record, and say it would leave taxpayers on the hook if the company fails.

He appealed to Carcieri, the corporation board’s chairman, to speak at the meeting. But Carcieri, a Republican, brushed aside Chafee after entering the building, reminding him that he had previously told him in writing that he would not be permitted to speak.

Monday’s meeting was open to the public, though non-board members were not invited to speak, and the 38 Studios deal was not on the agenda.

“No, I sent you that letter already, so that’s pretty clear,” Carcieri told Chafee before heading inside.

The governor later told reporters that the board had already held public hearings on the topic and that Chafee’s concerns had already been communicated to the agency.

In the letter, Carcieri told Chafee he stood by the corporation’s decision and added, “It is inappropriate for EDC to become engaged in this political campaign.”

Chafee said afterward he did not expect to be able to speak but thought it was nonetheless important to draw attention to the risks of the deal.

“I thought the chances were slim and none, and slim just left town,” Chafee cracked.

Meanwhile, Moderate Party gubernatorial candidate Ken Block on Monday announced that he had submitted an open records request seeking documents related to the 38 Studios loan guarantee.