ALBANY, N.Y. — A New York City advertising agency paid $300 for a photograph of South African construction cranes that the Cuomo administration used in a state report to illustrate economic development in New York.
A copy of the receipt for the photo obtained by The Associated Press shows Campbell Ewald NY bought the image in July 2016 from Getty Images. The photo’s cost is listed as $575 on the stock photo company’s website. The advertising agency paid a discounted price for it.
The photo, titled “Forest of cranes #2,” shows seven towering construction cranes. It appeared across pages 5 and 6 of the 2017 annual report released last month by Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency.
ESD officials said Tuesday that the ad and marketing firm provided the image to the state agency, which compiled the 127-page report.
The photo has been replaced by a photograph of the interior of a central New York manufacturing company that ESD officials said had expanded and added workers with the help of state economic development programs.
The origin of the cranes photo was discovered by the AP and acknowledged by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration on Feb. 20. Officials from ESD said at the time that it was “a generic stock image” but wouldn’t divulge who provided it or how much was paid for the photo. The AP obtained that information through a Freedom of Information Law filing.
The photo actually showed construction cranes being used to build a soccer stadium in Cape Town for the 2010 soccer World Cup. Like the rest of the photos in the report, it wasn’t accompanied by a caption or any other identifying details.
“While the vast majority of photos are taken by NYS employees, stock photos may be used in certain instances to keep taxpayer costs at a minimum,” ESD officials said.
Including an image of a foreign construction project in a state report on supposedly robust economic activity across New York drew criticism from government watchdog groups who have panned Cuomo’s annual multi-billion-dollar outlay for economic development programs whose results are subject for debate in Albany.