At 6 p.m. last Thursday only a few people had walked into the Republican Headquarters and picked up the thick packets of papers with names and dates strewn across the pages. Slowly people eased their way into the room until nearly 20 people were watching a presentation on 38 Studios. Throughout the presentation, “unbelievable” could be heard alongside angered sighs.
The GOP-sponsored event had been billed as a comprehensive and in-depth look at 38 Studios presented by State Representative Michael Chippendale. It was all of that.
Chippendale’s presentation comprised more than 40 slides and everyone was given a printed copy of it. There was also another handout with the names of key players and glossary of terms. All together, Chippendale’s enthusiastic and thorough presentation lasted about 2 hours.
“I don’t like to be ripped off the way we were and I think that is a common theme throughout Rhode Island; people are angry about this,” Chippendale said.
His PowerPoint began, “The deal that could have saved Rhode Island … twice.” Once, had the venture been successful, it would bring jobs to the state. Chippendale feels as though it could have saved Rhode Island, had proper investigations been held.
His final slide read, “The people of our state would watch the ‘bad guys’ go to jail, and they would see changes in the way we do business as a state … show the world that we are not going to stand for corruption in RI politics.”
He coined the term “38Gate,” comparing the 38 Studios to Nixon’s Watergate scandal less so for the actual events, but rather the issues of cover-ups.
Chippendale, who has participated on both oversight committees on the issue, said he has put in more than 1,000 hours into investigating the issue
“I am not an investigator, but I want to know everything I can so Rhode Island can avoid a catastrophe like this again,” Chippendale said.
Richard Garganta, an unaffiliated voter, said, “I was involved in the protests from the get go. I am not happy to spend money on a moral obligation loan that the taxpayers never voted on. This shouldn’t be obligatory. All the secrecy and illegalities show it was a systemic thievery of taxpayer money.”
Dr. Hasan Alsawaf, who is running as a Republican for State Senator of District 22, said, “This was an excellent presentation, very comprehensive. This whole scenario is like something out of a scripted movie. It is an embarrassment to the state. The public deserves to know more about this.”
The Q&A was mostly thank you’s for the presentation, as well as citizens expressing their opinions and anger toward the situation.
This presentation was the second of a speaker series the Republican Party is holding. They plan to continue, but may not have another event until after the primary.
Robert Paquin, the executive director of the Republican Party, said, “The Republican Party is the super minority. We began this speaker series to compare rationales and where we stand as a party on the important issues facing Rhode Island. We have every party represented here. It isn’t just Republicans at this meeting. We have independents, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters. Everyone here wants to promote good government. These sessions are open to everyone. We want people to wake up and be informed on these issues.”