On the campaign trail in New York on Friday, Empire State GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin called for an investigation into the apparent shenanigans of incumbent Gov. Kathy Hachul.
In 2021, the Hochula administration signed a deal to buy 52 million Covid-19 Carestart tests for $637 million. At the same time, the state of California made a similar purchase, but paid 45 percent less than New York, according to the Albany Times Union.
The report said the price increase was due to Hachul running the promotion through a donor company to facilitate the purchase. While California went through manufacturer AccessBio.
The intermediary company involved in the deal is called Digital Gadgets and is based in northern New Jersey.
The company was founded in 2007 by Brooklyn native Charlie Tebele. Digital Gadgets donated $300,000 to the governor’s campaign this election cycle.
Republican candidate Lee Zeldin (R) told the media on Friday: “Kathy Hachul’s approach to this job is to sell access in a way that even Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t even think of. It crosses different boundaries. And it needs to be investigated”
The official line from Governor Kathy Hachul’s office is that the governor was unaware that Digital Gadgets was a campaign donor
Digital Gadget was founded in 2007 by Brooklyn native Charlie Tebele, pictured here
Zeldin, who is currently in the House of Representatives, is facing Hochula in the November general election and has the support of Donald Trump.
His campaign made headlines last month when a man walked on stage during one of Zeldin’s fan events and tried to stab him. Zeldin was not injured, and the attacker was detained.
Tebele, along with family members, donated $70,000 before the contract and another $227,000 after the deal.
During a speech in Manhattan, Zeldin told the media: “Kathy Hachul’s campaign receives $300,000 from donors, and then, circumventing New York’s competitive bidding laws, they end up agreeing to a contract worth more than $600 million, paying twice higher rate. ‘
Zeldin warned that this was not the first time Hachul had engaged in such behavior.
He said, “Kathy Hachul’s approach to this job is to sell access in a way that even Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t even think of. It crosses different boundaries. And it should be investigated.”
Zeldin added, “There are so many aspects of this $600 million COVID deal that there is no way I would sign.”
The official line from Hochula’s office is that the governor was unaware that Digital Gadgets was a donor to the campaign when the contract was awarded.
Digital Gadgets said the higher price was due to the timing of the deal with the supplier, which came three weeks before the California deal.
Digital Gadgets offered to sell 26 million tests to New York State at $13 per test on December 20, the deal was approved on December 21
Zeldin appears during the New York Republican gubernatorial debate at the Spectrum News NY1 studios on June 20, 2022 in New York City
The company said in a statement through spokesman John Gallagher: “The company did not make $286 million in profit, and any suggestion to the contrary is misleading and willfully ignores the fact that Digital Gadgets pays more per unit of AccessBio tests than the state of California. did because of the size and date of the order, risked hundreds of millions of dollars in capital expenditures to fulfill an order of this size, incurred millions of dollars in aircraft leases and overtime for employees over Christmas and New Year’s, and then also had to meet the following state requirement that the tests had an extended shelf life, requiring additional sourcing of materials.”
Digital Gadgets offered to sell 26 million tests to the state of New York at a price of $13 per test on December 20, the deal was approved on December 21.
On January 4, another 26 million tests were ordered through Digital Gadgets.
Hochula’s behavior was also questioned by state Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay.
The Oswego, N.Y., Republican said in a statement: “This is either negligence, incompetence or outright corruption — possibly all three. Either way, it needs answers.”
He continued: “Where are the investigative agencies of the legislature? Where is the attorney general? The governor should be held accountable. The longer her political allies stay silent, the more it looks like the Democrats are covering for one of their own.”
John Kenney, executive director of the government watchdog group Reinvent Albany, told the New York Post that his group expects a federal investigation into Hachul’s conduct.
He said: “Yes, New York was in crisis, but so was the rest of the country, and other states and the federal government didn’t pay for the same testing that New York did.”
While state Senate Minority Leader Robert Orth told the Post, “Despite her promise of an open and transparent administration, this apple didn’t fall far from Cuomo’s corrupt tree.”
Bill Hammond, a senior fellow at the Empire Center for Public Policy, told the Times Union: “The price is very far off the map, and we still haven’t heard anything close to a convincing explanation as to why the price was so high, and why the Hochula administration didn’t just go along with it. at a high price, but also made it its main supplier.’
He continued, “If the tests were sold to another state at the same time — at a better price — New York should have gotten something closer to that price, even if the state was buying up the last available tests.”
Hachul recently stepped up her attacks on Republicans and told some to “go back to Florida.”
She also attacked DeSantis at a Holocaust event, saying, “I just want to say to the 1.77 million Jews who call New York home, thank you for calling New York home. Do not go anywhere and to another state. Florida is overrated.”
New York is one of the Democratic states that is actively defending abortion rights ahead of important midterm elections.