New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has boasted about courting General Electric to move its headquarters back to New York. The second-term Democrat said the incentive package he's offering represents “a lot of love” -- on top of a separate $50 million he has already given the company. But his administration now says it has no records of any offer being made by the state to the company.
In response to International Business Times’ open-records requests for any emails, memos or documents relating to incentives to GE from New York, Cuomo’s office and his economic development agency told International Business Times that it has no such documents.
Despite his office saying it has no record of incentives offered to GE, Cuomo and his aides have publicly acknowledged communicating with company officials about moving back to New York. Cuomo, though, has refused to detail what he says he "put on the table.”
Exactly how much Cuomo is proposing to give General Electric -- and whether he should be giving anything -- has become a controversial issue in New York. GE is currently shutting down its Hudson River cleanup operations without having removed all the toxic chemicals it discharged into the river in the mid-20th century. Democratic legislators, environmental groups and newspaper editorial boards have suggested that Cuomo is inappropriately offering taxpayer largesse to the company at a time when they say his administration should instead be forcing GE to fully clean up its pollution of the state’s largest waterway.
Cuomo has argued that the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for pushing GE to clean up the river -- even though the Cuomo administration's Department of Environmental Conservation is one of the three Hudson River trustees responsible for assessing the harm done to the waterway by GE. The two other trustees -- the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- said last month that GE should not yet be permitted to shut down its cleanup, but the governor's office did not weigh in. An EPA official said there has been “radio silence” from Cuomo’s administration when the agency has reached out to it about pushing GE to clean up a key Hudson River canal in upstate New York.
Cuomo's administration had instituted a policy of automatically deleting state employees' emails after 90 days -- a move that ProPublica said was "the latest in a long line of decisions that seem to contradict Cuomo's promise" of creating "the most transparent" administration in history. But after an outcry from pro-transparency groups, the governor abandoned that policy. The decision to scrap the policy occurred before Cuomo and officials from his administration met with GE executives about moving the company headquarters to New York.