PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A top official at the Rhode Island agency overseeing the program that provided Curt Schilling’s video gaming company a $75 million loan guarantee inquired about a job with the firm about six weeks after the financing deal was finalized, documents show.
Emails obtained by The Associated Press under a public records request show that J. Michael Saul, who was managing director of financial services for the state Economic Development Corp. at the time, asked the chief financial officer of 38 Studios, Rick Wester, about a finance director position in December 2010. Saul also inquired about working there as chief operating officer.
The financing deal between 38 Studios and the EDC was finalized on Nov. 2, according to the emails.
‘‘On a separate note and very confidentially I am beginning to investigate my next opportunity,’’ Saul wrote to Wester in a message sent from his EDC email account. ‘‘I do not know whether there might be a fit with 38 but I attach my resume as well.’’
Saul said Gov.-elect Lincoln Chafee, who was to take office weeks later, was requiring everyone in leadership positions at the EDC to reapply.
‘‘That and the fact I never intended to stay this long has awakened me to a time for change,’’ Saul wrote.
Saul also expressed interest in the position of chief operating officer at 38 Studios if it were to come open. It’s unclear whether he ever worked for Schilling’s company in any capacity, however.
Saul’s job description, provided to The AP by the EDC, says he directed all of the agency’s financial programs, including guaranteed loan programs and bond financings. Under its agreement with 38 Studios, the EDC issued $75 million in bonds and set aside the proceeds of the sale for the video gaming company to tap when it met certain milestones.
Messages left for Saul on Friday were not immediately returned.
EDC issued a statement saying it ‘‘does not condone behavior where a staff member is seeking employment from a company that he/she has monitoring or oversight of programs where the company is directly benefiting.’’ The agency is investigating.
38 Studios was lured from Massachusetts to Rhode Island in 2010 after the EDC board approved the $75 million loan guarantee. The deal was criticized by many at the time for being too risky, but agency officials said it would bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue.
The company laid off all its staff in May and filed for bankruptcy last month.
Saul left the EDC a few months after Chafee took office. He had served intermittently as deputy director, interim executive director and later — after then-Gov. Don Carcieri in 2010 appointed Keith Stokes as the agency’s head — managing director of finance.
Saul launched a consulting firm, Main Street Solution, in Providence in 2011.
In his inquiry about the 38 Studios positions to Wester on Dec. 16, 2010, Saul asked that Wester not mention his interest to anyone except Jennifer MacLean, the firm’s chief executive officer. He said Wester could also alert ‘‘Curt if necessary,’’ referring to Schilling.
Saul specifically asked Wester not to alert 38 Studios Board Director Thomas Zaccagnino ‘‘as I do not want this getting back to Michael Corso or any RI pols at this time.’’
Corso is a Providence-based tax credit broker who reportedly was involved in early efforts to bring 38 Studios to Providence.
In a reply email, Wester thanked Saul for the resume and said the finance director position had been filled. Wester said he would talk to MacLean ‘‘about you and keep it low key. I can understand seeing how political things got.’’
Wester said he thought the COO at the time, William Thomas, was leaving soon. Thomas was still with the company when it laid off all its staff in May.