Maryland Politician: Expropriate Hollywood’s Means of Production
A little-known codicil in Maryland's draft budget threatens to seize House of Cards assets as negotiations drag on.


A state legislator in Maryland is threatening to seize the assets of the Netflix hit House of Cards after the show’s production company asked for assurances that the state would continue paying incentives for production in the Old Line State.

The Chavistoid scheme has already made it into a draft of the state’s budget. But its sponsor tells National Review Online the maneuver is harmless because it is unlikely to become law.


William Frick, a Democrat representing Montgomery County, introduced language into a state-house version of the budget ordering the state to use eminent domain powers to seize the property of any company that claims $10 million or more from the state’s production tax credit and then departs the state.

The Baltimore Sun’s Timothy B. Wheeler reports:

The provision would appear to apply only to the Netflix series, which has gotten the bulk of the state credits.

Frick’s amendment was accepted without debate. To take effect, the House language would need to be accepted in a conference with the Senate, which has already voted to increase the film tax credit.

Frick tells NRO he does not believe Maryland’s threat to seize the property of a company doing business in the state will have a chilling effect on other productions — or on companies in other industries looking to open up shop. (Maryland also offers tax credits for biotechnology investment, “Sustainable Communities,” “Clean Energy” production, and other businesses.) Frick argues that because the “Underwood amendment” is unlikely to stay in the reconciled budget, it won’t worry entrepreneurs.

“It sent a strong message and had dramatic value,” Frick says, “but it’s unlikely to stay in positive law once the bill is passed.”

He says that the state has already paid the studio $27 million and called his response “proportionate in tone to what they sent us.” Media Rights Capital (MRC) produces the Washington, D.C.-set series. The Beverly Hills company has said it will consider moving production to another state if the Maryland government doesn’t provide funding for an expansion of the tax-credit program for a third season of shooting.

“I think they were doing saber rattling to dramatically increase their leverage, and the state did the same,” Frick says. “I don’t think there is a serious probability of the state of Maryland becoming owners of the House of Cards franchise. So I don’t have fear that other businesses will worry that they’re going to lose their property.”

Megan Duzi, an associate vice president at Rubinstein Communications, which represents MRC, declined to comment on the tax credit or on the eminent domain language but provided a statement:

“We have had wonderful experiences filming the past two seasons of ‘House of Cards’ in the State of Maryland and love shooting here.”