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New York Governor Kathy Hochul is coming under fire for a watchdog report showing that the Empire State paid nearly half for COVID tests from one of its campaign donors in New Jersey.
The Times union first reported that California paid 45% less for rapid COVID-19 tests from a major Hochul donor than New York state when the Omicron edition last winter was around the holidays. New York could have saved $286 million if it had paid the same price as California.
Records show that Hochul’s administration bought 52 million of the “CareStart” tests manufactured by New Jersey-based firm AccessBio for $637 million, more than an average of $12.25 per test on taxpayer money. The report said that instead of buying the test directly from AccessBio, as California did, New York went through an intermediary, New Jersey-based distributor Digital Gadgets, LLC.
Digital Gadgets, LLC, owned by a New York City family, donated approximately $300,000 to Hochul’s campaign.
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Hochul’s rival for governor, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, responded to allegations reported during the campaign
“Kathy Hochul’s campaign receives $300,000 from a donor, and then by going around and bypassing New York’s competitive bidding laws, they agree to a contract worth more than $600 million, twice pay more than that,” Zeldin said on Friday, according to NY 1. “Cathy Hochul’s approach to this job is one of sales reach in a way that Andrew Cuomo would never have imagined. It crosses all kinds of lines. And it should be investigated. There are so many aspects to the million’s COVID deal that I wouldn’t have signed off at all.”
“In line with Governor Hochul’s commitment to maintaining high ethical standards, campaign contributions have no impact on government decisions,” Hochul campaign communications director Jarrell Harvey said in a statement obtained by Fox News Digital.
A spokesperson for Digital Gadgets told the Times Union that the price New York paid was “very competitive at the time”, although California went directly to the supplier and paid $6.75 per test.
“Any implication to the contrary is misleading and willfully disregards the fact that digital gadgets paid more per unit for AccessBio tests than the state of California, due to the size and date of the order, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in capital costs.” Take the risk. Fill an order of this size, spend millions of dollars in charter aircraft costs and overtime cover for employees over Christmas and New Years, and then even the state’s later requirement for tests for an extended expiration date – Requires additional sourcing of materials,” the spokesperson said.
Digital Gadgets founder Charlie Tebelle has also denied any wrongdoing.
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John Kehney, executive director of Reinvent Albany, renewed his call for an investigation into the $637 million state business paid to digital gadgets, telling the New York Post: “A dark cloud of pay-to-play hangs over it.” Has happened. .”