As much as $211 million dollars spent by the Cuomo administration to sell the concept of “business in New York” produced “no tangible results,” according to an audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. As though that weren’t bad enough, a fifth of the money — $40 million — was diverted from a federal aid package intended to help New Yorkers recover from Hurricane Sandy.
New York spent $211 million on an advertising contract to promote economic development and tourism in New York, including the Start-Up NY program, but produced “no tangible results,” a state audit today said.
The Empire State Development Corporation spent the money on an advertising firm from December 2011 to November 2014, but the agency was not “able to effectively quantify and assess tangible outcomes from the initiatives,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in the audit.
“When government spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to send a message that New York is a place to visit and open for business, it should have clear objectives and show the public actual results,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “ESDC’s attempts to measure the results of this advertising campaign were weak at best, leaving real questions about whether the results justify the cost.”
The governor, Andrew Cuomo, claimed the feds were actually behind the blatant political ads, which were designed to spur tourism after the storm struck but amounted to little more than free publicity for Cuomo’s business economic plan. This, as we have proven, was a flat-out lie from the start.
As for the ads specifically mentioning Cuomo’s failed Start-Up NY program, $53 million was spent to produce – count ’em – 76 jobs.
A New York Times article in 2013 indicated that the man behind the ad campaign, Harvey Cohen, was the ad man for the Governor’s father, Mario Cuomo.
The federal government provided the money, but it was the state’s decision to allocate $40 million of the Sandy aid to promote Governor Cuomo’s business plan. The Empire State Development Corporation, led by Cohen, may have sought federal approval to use the money on the ad campaign, but the ESDC was ultimately responsible for making that call.
Using money allocated for victims of Hurricane Sandy was abhorrent to begin with. Using it to create 76 jobs and “no tangible results” is sheer incompetence.
Read the full report here.
Cross-posted at the Mental Recession