New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he knew nothing about a bill he signed -- a bill that News Corp. lobbied on before the company gave Cuomo a lucrative book contract. Cuomo was asked about the bill at an Albany press conference Wednesday after International Business Times reported that he backed initiatives helping News Corp.
Questioned about the legislation he signed in September 2011, Cuomo declared: “I have no idea that [News Corp.] lobbied for it. I have no idea what it is, by the way.”
The bill in question exempted online pay-walled publications from state sales taxes. State documents show News Corp. was one of only two firms to lobby on the bill. At the time, the Rupert Murdoch-led media company was making multimillion-dollar investments in the Daily -- a publication that would benefit from the special tax exemption.
Prior to the IBTimes report, Cuomo challenged reporters to show how his book contract accepting cash from News Corp. presented a conflict with state business that he oversees. IBTimes documented state records showing News Corp. lobbying Cuomo’s office. Those records list the company lobbying on everything from tax policy to education policy to state contracts.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Cuomo said: “Be real. It’s a book company that is News Corp. You know that company. You know who owns it, and it is a book deal. You come up with some theory of how there's a conflict writing a book, and then we’ll talk about it at that point.”
Cuomo did not address his administration’s move to exempt e-books from state taxation just after state records showed News Corp. lobbied his tax department. He also did not address his support for film tax credits after state records showed News Corp. lobbied his office.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has continued the work of the now-shuttered Moreland Commission into sources of outside income for officials in New York state. This investigation resulted in the recent arrest of Democratic former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. In addition to Silver, reports have indicated that powerful Republican state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos also is being investigated for his outside income.