New York’s Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul paid a New Jersey-based company $637 million for COVID tests during the Omicron wave.
The company, Digital Gadgets, received up to $13 per unit – some companies charge as low as $5.
The company is tied to almost $300,000 in donations to Hochul’s campaign.
In July, Hochul claimed she was “not aware” that the company awarded the no-bid contract was a campaign donor.
It turns out that was a lie.
According to a new report by the Times Union, a month before the Hochul administration awarded the $637 million contract for Covid tests, the company’s founder threw the Democrat governor a campaign fundraiser.
“Gov. Hochul has said she was ‘not aware’ a company that landed $637M in no-bid payments was a campaign donor. But a month before the huge deal was struck, records show, the head of the company threw a campaign fundraiser for Hochul,” The Times Union reported.
The Times Union reported:
Gov. Kathy Hochul maintains that when her administration paid a vendor $637 million last winter for COVID-19 tests, she was unaware the recipient was a campaign donor.
“I was not aware that this was a company that had been supportive of me,” Hochul told reporters at a July 20 press briefing. “I don’t keep track of that. My team, they have no idea.”
Yet a month before the Hochul administration struck the deals, records show, the company’s founder threw an in-person campaign fundraiser for Hochul.
According to Hochul’s campaign disclosure forms, the Nov. 22 fundraiser was thrown by Charlie Tebele, founder of Digital Gadgets LLC. A month later, the company would begin reaping $637 million in payments from Hochul’s administration to facilitate the purchase of 52 million at-home, rapid coronavirus tests.
The deal was enabled by Hochul’s revived suspension of competitive bidding rules for the administration’s purchase of COVID-19 supplies — a policy change that had also been been put in place for a time by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Through an emergency executive order, Hochul suspended those rules on Nov. 26, four days after the Tebele fundraiser.
New: Gov. Hochul has said she was ‘not aware’ a company that landed $637M in no-bid payments was a campaign donor.
But a month before the huge deal was struck, records show, the head of the company threw a campaign fundraiser for Hochul https://t.co/bccAsXfCQs
— Chris Bragg (@ChrisBragg1) September 20, 2022