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R.I. oversight panel declined to probe 38 Studios

PROVIDENCE — A Rhode Island lawmaker urged a legislative oversight panel to investigate the state’s involvement with former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s failed video game company but was told the issue was too politically charged to review in an election year.

Legislative correspondence reviewed by the Associated Press shows that Senator Dawson Hodgson in August twice asked Senator James Sheehan to convene hearings into 38 Studios, which collapsed after receiving a $75 million loan guarantee from the state.

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Sheehan, who leads the Senate’s government oversight committee, responded that inquiries into 38 Studios could interfere with ongoing investigations into the debacle. He added that ‘‘conducting committee hearings at this time particularly during a politically charged campaign season could do more harm than good.’’

Hodgson, Republican of North Kingstown, said Wednesday that he believes his request was denied to shield Senate leaders from political fallout from the state’s bad investment.

In his written response denying Hodgson’s request, Sheehan, Democrat of North Kingstown, said the governor’s office and law enforcement agencies ‘‘have informed us that the proposal to hold hearings outside of law enforcement could be detrimental to their ongoing work, potentially hindering their efforts.’’

A spokeswoman for independent Governor Lincoln Chafee confirmed that law enforcement agencies have expressed concerns that additional reviews of 38 Studios might impede their investigations of the company. But, she said, ‘‘We never said ‘don’t hold oversight hearings.’’’

Jim Martin, spokesman for the US attorney’s office, wouldn’t comment on the 38 Studios situation specifically. But he added: ‘‘It is not this office’s practice to request any entity to forego any kind of inquiry they may wish to undertake.’’

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