The battle between the production company behind the Netflix original series “House of Cards” and the state of Maryland finally came to a head last week, when Maryland’s House of Delegates pulled a move that would make Frank Underwood would be proud.
It began late last month when Charlie Goldstein, the senior vice president of Media Rights Capital, sent a letter to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, threatening to leave the state if the show was not provided the show with millions of dollars more in tax credits for which it believes it should qualify.
In the letter, Goldstein wrote the company would “break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state.”
However, one Maryland delegate came up with a drastic plan to keep that from happening. Delegate Bill Frick introduced an amendment to a budget bill that would allow Maryland to seize the production company’s property under eminent domain in the event it leaves the state.
Frick said the move was inspired by the style of politics depicted on “House of Cards” and by the show’s ruthless protagonist, Frank Underwood, who is played by Kevin Spacey. He told Business Insider he thought, “How would Frank Underwood respond?” Frick said his eminent domain plan was the “most dramatic” thing he could think of to counter MRC’s threat.
Frick’s amendment does not specifically target the show in its language, but “House of Cards” would be the only production to which it would apply. The amendment would only permit the state to use eminent domain powers to buy or condemn property owned by a film company that received more than $US10 million in tax credits if it leaves the state. According to The Washington Post, “House of Cards” has been given $US26.6 million, in tax credits, which would make it the only show filmed in Maryland that would qualify.
For now, the future of Frick’s amendment is unclear. Though the House of Delegates approved Frick’s amendment by voice vote, Maryland’s Senate doesn’t seem to be on the same page. In fact, the Senate recently voted 45-1 to increase the tax credits available to production companies to $US18.5 million annually. The House’s Ways and Means Committee, is scheduled to hold a hearing on that Senate’s provision this Wednesday.
For his part, Frick said his objective is simply to keep “House of Cards” in Maryland — at a minimal cost to taxpayers.
“Some people have told me it’s a ‘gangster move,'” Frick told Business Insider. “I don’t know about that. But I think it was definitely a bit of hardball” to an original threat he said was done in “extremely bad faith.”
Frick also said he’s not worried about facing the kind of deadly retaliation Underwood has used on his enemies as a result of this move
“Fortunately, Mr. Underwood is a fictional character,” Frick said.
The production company did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
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