Today the muckraking International Business Times published Freedom of Information Law requests to the governor’s office and the Empire State Development Corporation in which the Cuomo administration says it “is not in possession of any documents” relating to offers of subsidies to General Electric. At first this seems very odd given the Governor’s high-profile, and very controversial, campaign to woo General Electric’s headquarters from Connecticut to New York.
But there is a logical explanation. It could be that the governor’s office and ESD do not have responsive records “in their possession” because the famously secretive Cuomo has done all of his negotiations verbally or through intermediaries outside of government, like John Mack former CEO of Morgan Stanley who is friendly to both Governor Cuomo and GE’s Jeffrey Immelt. In August, Politico New York reported that Mack had contacted Immelt “several times over the Summer.” Politico also reported that “Mack has also been a nexus between Cuomo and Immelt: In 2014, Immelt said Mack had helped arrange a partnership between GE and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute.”
We would like to see Governor Cuomo disclose the details of his offer to GE, especially because GE is one of his biggest political contributors and there is a major controversy over GE’s refusal to continue dredging the toxic PCB’s it dumped into the Hudson north of Albany. Unfortunately, he probably will not, and Freedom of Information Law cannot compel the release of records “if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations.” (Public Officers Art 6, Sec 87, 2(c))