New York’s state government has committed millions of dollars in taxpayer support to News Corporation for a real estate deal -- less than three years after a subsidiary of that company gave New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo a book deal worth up to $700,000. The commitment was disclosed in documents released by the Port Authority -- an agency jointly controlled by Cuomo and New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
The documents say the Port Authority, News Corporation and 21st Century Fox “have received commitments from New York State” for a “one-time payment of $15 million in 2016 and the utilization of a $15 million” state tax credit as part of the agency’s push to make the companies “anchor tenants” for 2 World Trade Center. The documents say the transactions are part of an initiative to reduce News Corporation’s and 21st Century Fox’s rent payments at the new building by $155 million.
The Cuomo-appointed executive director of the Port Authority, Patrick Foye, told International Business Times Wednesday night that he is recommending that the Port Authority’s board approve the package because, he said, the agency will get significant bang for its buck. “That is objectively a good deal, a good transaction for the Port Authority and the region,” he said.
Contradicting his own agency’s documents, Foye asserted that “it’s not accurate” to say that Cuomo’s state government is offering a $15 million one-time deal. “That’s not the case,” he said.
The 2 World Trade Center proposal is scheduled to be considered Thursday by officials at the Port Authority. The Foye-backed proposal says the Rupert Murdoch-linked companies will pay back the subsidy in 2021, but that the overall cost of the deal to the public will be $9 million.
This is not the first time the Cuomo administration has moved to help News Corporation. IBT reported that before Cuomo was given the lucrative book deal, he signed tax legislation in 2011 that News Corporation lobbied on and that was expected to help one of its online publications. And in 2012, while News Corporation lobbied Cuomo’s office, he backed an expansion of controversial film and television tax credits that have benefited News Corporation’s films.
Cuomo’s office did not respond to IBT’s questions about the 2 World Trade Center transaction or the book deal, instead referring inquiries to the Port Authority. Amid a sprawling federal probe of corruption in Albany, the New York governor recently denounced lawmakers for accepting personal payments that might raise questions about conflicts of interest.
“It’s always the same issue: outside income that blurs the line between public official and personal business,” he said.