Matt Lauer in trouble with hunters, hikers over public access to his New Zealand ranch
The disgraced former TV host is denying greater public access to his land claiming he's being targeted as an "easy mark"
Matt Lauer feels he’s being targeted in his new home.
In a radio interview, Lauer described local efforts to get greater public access to a road on his 16,000-acre Hunter Valley Station ranch as people taking advantage of his “difficult times” as he was an “easy mark” following his firing last November after complaints of sexual misconduct from multiple women came to light.
According to the New York Times, people are campaigning to access a service road on Lauer’s property that leads to a conservation park. Foreign owners nearby, such as country singer Shania Twain’s ex-husband producer Mutt Lange, have granted similar requests for public access.
But the former “Today” show host is not feeling conciliatory. Lauer’s lawyer told the Times he plans to appeal any court rulings in favor of more public access and, if unsuccessful, he will demand compensation for allowing the public in to the tune of “hundreds of thousands,” if not “millions,” of dollars in government funds.
Though New Zealand’s acting prime minister Winston Peters opposes Lauer receiving any public money in exchange for access, Peters admitted the failure to negotiate the terms of public use of the road was the fault of the Overseas Investment Office.
The same agency conducted an investigation of Lauer following his firing by NBC to determine whether the former TV show host’s behavior met the country’s standard criteria of “good character.”
Officials have been discussing alternative sources for any compensation that may eventually be due to Lauer because, as detailed in public records, paying “a very wealthy American with a tarnished reputation,” government money would create an “optics” issue. [NYT]