His is testimony that has been sought for months, and at last legislators expect to hear it.
Patent attorney Michael Wise is scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability at its hearing on Thursday. In December, Department of Economic Development representatives told the Committee that it was Wise who in a phone conversation told Moberly officials he had been to a Mamtek production facility in China. Wise was said to have claimed he visited the facility in-person more than once and to have obtained product made there.
Wise’s claims were part of the basis for Moberly officials proceeding with the Mamtek project that has since collapsed and become the subject of multiple investigations.
Chairman, Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) said in December he had already been trying to get Wise before the Committee for over a month. Now, he’s anxious to hear what the man has to say. “‘What did Michael Wise see in China?’ is the big question for next week.”
That could also be one of the last questions the Committee asks before moving on to another phase. “We’ve had a lot of hearings. We’ve heard a lot of testimony. I think we have a pretty good picture of what happened. Next week’s testimony I think completes our picture.
Barnes says after the Thursday hearing, the body might shift focus from investigating the facts of Mamtek to dealing with legislation stemming from those facts. It is for that task that it went from being an “interim” basis to a standing special committee. “We’re going to be assigned bills relating to this topic and so we’re gonna be in existence until the end of session.”
Some such legislation has been filed, while the chairman says he and others are developing more. “Stay tuned,” Barnes suggests.
He says he will talk to other Committee members about whether there is anyone else they believe it would be worthwhile to talk to.
Others are expected at the hearing but at least one name has been pulled from that list. On Monday Barnes said he was working to get Moberly attorney Tom Cunningham to testify, but he now says that will not be happening. “(The Committee is) going to have a conversation about what to do about that.”
Another notable absence will be Bruce Cole, who was Mamtek’s Chairman and CEO and announced the deal at Moberly in July of 2010. Barnes says his attempts to contact Cole have been met with no response.
Testimony is expected from financial services company Standard & Poor’s, who gave Moberly’s bonds in the Mamtek deal a high quality rating. Barnes plans to ask them how they arrived at that rating and why the viability of the company did not play into it.
Also expected is Tom Smith who was a site consultant and project manager at the Moberly Mamtek site. Moberly officials testified in December that Smith e-mailed them with pictures of the alleged China plant.
Thursday’s hearing is at 12:30 in the Capital.