Pennsylvania asks court to keep Amazon incentives a secret

Litigation Reports

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration went to court this week to block requests for records of financial incentives it offered Amazon to build its second headquarters in Pennsylvania.

An administration lawyer asked Commonwealth Court to reverse an Office of Open Records decision deeming the records to be public and ordering their release. The Morning Call of Allentown requested the records.

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were among 20 finalists for a facility that the online retailer promises will bring 50,000 new jobs and construction spending topping $5 billion.

Rob Wonderling, president of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, last year told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Pennsylvania planned to offer Amazon more than $1 billion in tax incentives if the online retailer built its second headquarters in the state.

City and state officials have otherwise refused to disclose details, and Pennsylvania state officials have long refused to disclose incentives offered to companies until there is a formal agreement.

Amazon's request for proposals before deciding the location of its second headquarters set off a competition among governments across the country, and many said they don't want their competitors to know what they're offering.

More than 15 states and cities, including Philadelphia, refused requests from The Associated Press to release the financial promises they made to try to lure Amazon.

A records request seeking Pittsburgh's bid was denied because the proposal is "exempt from public dissemination."

Amazon has said it will make its decision this year. Nearly a quarter of a million dollars was spent to create and promote Philadelphia's plan, including $160,000 by the quasi-public Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation on a website and the written submission.

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