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A COVID-19 testing provider held a personal fundraiser for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul just a month before closing a hugely lucrative deal to provide testing for the state.
Digital Gadgets LLC founder Charlie Tebele hosted a fundraiser for Hochul on November 22, 2021, the Times-Union reports.
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Charlie and his wife Nancy Tebele share an apartment with two other Tebeles, James and Leon. James Teble was later selected as the campaign’s finance officer and was paid full-time. On December 16, Leon Tebele donated $20,000 to the Hochul campaign.
According to the Times-Union, the Tebele family donated a total of around 300,000 US dollars to the Hochul campaign. On Dec. 20, Hochul and Digital Gadgets LLC agreed on a $637 million deal to provide the state with millions of COVID-19 tests.
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The Times Union first reported that California paid 45% less for rapid COVID-19 tests from a prominent Hochul donor than New York State did last winter, when the Omicron variant caught on around the holiday. New York could have saved $286 million if it had paid for that same price as California.
Records show the Hochul government bought 52 million of the “Carestart” tests manufactured by New Jersey-based company AccessBio for $637 million, averaging $12.25 per test at the expense of the taxpayer cost. Rather than buying the tests directly from AccessBio like California had done, New York went through an intermediary, New Jersey-based distributor Digital Gadgets LLC, the report said.
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Reinvent Albany executive director John Kaehny renewed his call for an investigation into the $637 million in government deals paid to Digital Gadgets, telling the New York Post: “There’s a dark cloud of pay to play hanging about that.”
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.