Governor freezes film tax credit program - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Governor freezes film tax credit program

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DES MOINES (KWWL,WHO)-- There's quite a mess unfolding at the Iowa film office, and the fall-out is just beginning.

Governor Chet Culver has frozen money for the Iowa Film Incentive Program, and the head of the Iowa film office, Tom Wheeler, has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Late Friday afternoon, the director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Mike Tramontina, suddenly resigned. His department oversees the Iowa film office.

All of this follows a memo, which Tramontina wrote Wednesday, outlining an internal audit, alleging serous abuses of the tax credits given to film makers who make their movies in iowa.

The audit alleges film makers used the tax credits to buy luxury vehicles, including a mercedes and land Rover. It also reports that large payments were made to family members of the movie makers. Also damaging is word that receipts have been documented for only 2 of 18 Iowa film projects.

Governor Culver says he wants a thorough investigation into how the money was spent. All this comes at a time when Iowa has been trying to promote its film incentives as among the best in the country.

Since the tax credit program begin in July 2007, 20 film projects have been awarded $31 million in tax credits.

There are currently four projects being filmed in the state, three in the Des Moines area and one in Council Bluffs.

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