New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's paid double for rapid COVID-19 tests from a company owned by one of her major donors, the New York Post reported Friday.
"Whether it was pay-to-play or total incompetence — New York taxpayers and then the federal taxpayers got massively ripped off," John Kaehny of the good-government group Reinvent Albany told the Post Friday regarding the deal with Digital Gadgets, which charged as much as $13 per test, compared to the other vendors at around $5 each.
According to the article, Hochul, a Democrat, contracted with New Jersey-based Digital Gadgets for an estimated $637 million for the tests without requiring a bid due to suspended contracting rules because New York had declared a state of emergency.
Digital Gadgets is run by Hochul donor Charlie Tebele, who Open Secrets reported personally donated more than $30,000 to Hochul in 2021, and according to the Post, may be tied to around $300,000 in donations to the governor’s campaign.
"At the very least, the public deserves a hearing to address how this deal was arranged, why it lacked a formal contract, and the seemingly questionable timing of relevant communications," Republican Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay said in a statement to the Post on Friday.
The Times Union reported Thursday that the firm was paid an average of $12.25 per COVID-19 test in a deal totaling $637 million in state and federal taxpayer dollars for 52 million tests, while other vendors charged the state between $5-$7.80 each.
The charge, according to the article, was the same as consumers would have paid on their own at a retail store.
According to its LinkedIn profile, Digital Gadgets is listed in the computers and electronics manufacturing industry, and lists its specialties as "logistics, sourcing, distribution, warehousing, consumer electronics, and wholesale."
"We are passionate about partnering with emerging tech pioneers, entrepreneurs, and established brands, to grow," the company said on the profile. "Success is a team sport, and we are constantly looking for strategic partnerships to deliver win-win-win solutions."
Hochul is also being scrutinized for other contracts to campaign donors dealing with a Hudson Yards casino plan, redevelopment for Penn Station, and a brewery’s fast tracked license appeal, the Post reported.
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