Californians SHOULD NOT FUND Hollywood’s Toxic Culture

Today, I am asking the Franchise Tax Board in their role as the chief administrator of the California Motion Picture and Television Production Credit’s allocation, assignment, purchase, sale and application of credit against income or franchise tax to investigate whether any of these tax benefits went to executives, producers or directors who were engaged in sexual exploitation, demeaning language, exploitation, abuse or other sexual crimes.

Spurred by initial accusations against Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood producers, I am concerned that this behavior of sexual harassment and assault was an open secret in Hollywood and overlooked by those in authority.

Because the state generously subsidizes Hollywood productions through the California Film Commission’s tax credits, now totaling $330 million a year, it has a direct interest in ensuring that state laws, especially those to prevent sexual assaults, are enforced throughout this industry.

The State of California has in place legislation that prohibits sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation. For Hollywood, these laws go all the way back to the 1930’s as parents routinely exploited their children’s earnings while allowing them to grow and operate in a lewd and lasciviousness environment.

This is not only about Mr. Weinstein. This is about a toxic Hollywood culture, with its debaucheries and hyper-sexualized atmosphere that normalizes assaults and predator behaviors. We are only starting to learn how pervasive that culture is — that, as Emma Watson put it, “this is just the top of the ladder” of problems. Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg acknowledged that the problems are pervasive and is quoted as saying, “The problem is there’s a pack of wolves. [Weinstein is] not a lone actor in this.”

All of us should join together to condemn sexual abuse and to root it out everywhere, especially in the areas it long has been covered up by the wealthy and the powerful. We should make sure taxpayers are not forced to pay for such activity. And we should assure the victims of these sexual assaults and future unwitting victims of abuse that we will pursue justice. If there are any fixes to current statute that will prevent money going to sexual abusers in the future, as we have a duty to hold tax-expenditure recipients accountable and have the ability to address inappropriate behavior and deny scarce state funds.

I look forward to prompt replies from those overseeing these tax credits in our state government.