ALBANY – Disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein’s former company received more than $400,000 in state tax credits – and one New York lawmaker says it’s time to stop rewarding companies that turn a blind eye to sexual harassment.
The Weinstein Company, which was founded by Weinstein and his brother Bob, has received at least $426,500 in New York State film production tax credits since 2011, according to a database maintained by ProPublica.
Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) said the state should not be subsidizing the bad behavior of companies and she plans to introduce legislation in the coming days that would require companies seeking tax credits to disclose any sexual harassment complaints or settlements over the past five years and the outcomes of those cases.
Under the proposed legislation, companies that are determined to have poor records in dealing with sexual harassment would be denied the credits.
“This is to hold companies accountable,” Rosenthal said, adding that the state should also investigate whether it can claw back any of the credits given to Weinstein’s company.
“New York should not be a party to sexual abuse or discrimination,” she said.
Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said Sunday, “we support this reform and look forward to working with Assemblywoman Rosenthal to make this a reality.”
Lever, when asked if the Cuomo administration needs legislative action or could act administratively, said the issue is being explored.
“This reprehensible behavior goes beyond the film industry and we need to look at ways to weed it out across the board,” she said. “We are looking at broad-based reforms in this arena and are examining what can be implemented administratively and what will require legislation.”
Intended to make New York a more attractive filming location, the film tax credit program offers refundable tax credits to film and television companies for production costs incurred while operating in the state. The program costs taxpayers $420 million annually.
A spokesman for Empire State Development, the state agency that oversees the program, defended the awarding of credits to Weinstein’s company, saying any company that films in New York and meets the program’s requirements can receive credits.
Women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault
“We don’t pick and choose which one gets credits,” the spokesman said.
Cuomo has already come under fire for his initial refusal to donate all the money Weinstein had donated to his political campaigns.
Cuomo originally said he would donate only the $50,000 he’d received from Weinstein during the past year and not the more than $61,000 he’d received during his previous campaigns dating back to 2006. On Thursday, amid criticism, Cuomo reversed course and announced plans to donate all of the money.
A spokeswoman for the state GOP slammed Cuomo over the tax credits.
“After almost half a million dollars in tax breaks to Harvey Weinstein, it’s clear why the governor was so desperate to hang onto his campaign contributions,” said GOP spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “The governor’s insidious cycle of doling out tax breaks to his wealthy donors is bad enough on its face, but its outrageous taxpayers were forced to subsidize this creep. We are going to make sure voters remember in next year’s election.”
Lever shot back that state GOP Chairman Ed Cox continues to support President Trump despite his past sexist comments and claims from women during last year’s campaign that he had sexually abused them in the past.
“Ed Cox and his cronies can either support this effort (to pass the Rosenthal legislation), or continue to give cover to corporations the same way they protect a President who thinks it’s ok to assault women and has actively worked to cut off access to birth control and roll back hard fought protections to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.”
Weinstein was fired from his company this month after it was reported that he sexually harassed and abused multiple women over three decades.
Company officials have maintained they were unaware of his behavior.
The company did not respond to requests for comment on Rosenthal’s proposed legislation.