During a campaign halt in New York City on Friday, Republican nominee for Empire State governor Lee Zeldin called for an investigation into the apparent shady dealings of incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul.
In 2021, the Hochul government 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 states that the price increase is because Hochul went through a donor’s company of the campaign to make it easier to buy. While California went directly through manufacturer AccessBio.
The middleman company involved in the deal is called Digital Gadgets and is based in northern New Jersey.
The company was founded in 2007 by Brooklyn resident Charlie Tebele. This election cycle, Digital Gadgets has donated $300,000 to the governor’s campaign.
Republican nominee Lee Zeldin (right) told the media on Friday, “Kathy Hochul’s approach to this job is to sell access in a way that even Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t even think of. In doing so, all possible limits are exceeded. And it needs to be investigated’
The official line from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office is that the governor was unaware that Digital Gadgets was a donor to the campaign
Digital Gadget was founded in 2007 by Brooklyn resident Charlie Tebele, pictured here
Zeldin, who currently sits in the House of Representatives, is running against Hochul in November’s general election and has the support of Donald Trump.
His campaign made headlines last month when a man came on stage with supporters during one of Zeldin’s events and tried to stab him. Zeldin was unharmed and his attacker was arrested.
Tebele, along with family members, donated $70,000 before the contract was awarded and another $227,000 after the deal was finalized.
Zeldin told the media during an appearance in Manhattan, “Kathy Hochul’s campaign gets $300,000 from a donor, and then they go around and circumvent New York’s bidding laws and end up agreeing to a $600 million deal and paying more than.” twice the usual rate. ‘
Zeldin warned that this isn’t the first time Hochul has exhibited such behavior.
He said: “Kathy Hochul’s approach to this job is to sell access in a way that even Andrew Cuomo would never think of. In doing so, all possible limits are exceeded. And it needs to be investigated.’
Zeldin added, “There are so many aspects of this $600 million COVID deal that I absolutely would not have signed it.”
The official line from Hochul’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 on December 20 at a price of $13 per test, the deal was approved on December 21
Zeldin performs during the New York Republican gubernatorial debate on June 20, 2022 at Spectrum News NY1 Studios in New York
The company said in a statement through spokesman John Gallagher, “The company has not made nearly $286 million in profit and any implication to the contrary is misleading and willfully ignores the fact that Digital Gadgets paid more per unit for AccessBio tests than.” the state of California did because of the size and date of the job, risked hundreds of millions of dollars in capital costs to complete a job of this size, incurred millions of dollars in aircraft charter costs and employee overtime over the Christmas and New Year period , and then also had to comply with the state’s retrospective requirement that the tests have an extended expiration date – which requires the additional procurement of materials.’
Digital Gadgets offered to sell 26 million tests to New York State on December 20 at a price of $13 per test, the deal was approved on December 21.
On January 4th, another 26 million tests were ordered through Digital Gadgets.
Hochul’s behavior was also questioned by State Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay.
The Republican, from Oswego, New York, said in a statement, “That’s negligence, incompetence, or flagrant corruption — maybe all three. Either way, it calls for answers.’
He continued: “Where are the investigative bodies of the legislature? Where’s the Attorney General? The governor must be held accountable. The longer their political allies remain silent, the more it looks like the Democrats are covering for one of their own.
Executive director of state surveillance group Reinvent Albany, John Kaehny, told the New York Post his group awaits a federal investigation into Hochul’s behavior.
He said, “Yes, New York was in a crisis, but so was the rest of the country, and other states and the federal government weren’t paying anywhere near what New York was paying for the same test.”
While State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt told the Post, “While she has promised an open and transparent administration, that apple didn’t fall far from the corrupt Cuomo tree.”
Bill Hammond, senior fellow in health policy at the Empire Center for Public Policy, told the Times Union: “The price is just way off the map and we still haven’t heard a remotely convincing explanation as to why the price was so high. and why the administration of Hochul not only accepted such a high price but made it their main supplier.’
He continued, “If the tests had been sold to another state at the same time — at a better price — New York should have been able to get a little closer to that price even if the state snapped up the last available tests.”
Recently, Hochul has ramped up her attacks on Republicans, telling some to “go back to Florida.”
She also attacked DeSantis at an event dedicated to the Holocaust, saying, “I just want to say to the 1.77 million Jews who call New York home: Thank you for calling New York home. Don’t go anywhere or to another state. Florida is overrated.”
New York is one of the democratic states actively protecting abortion rights before the crucial midterms.