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New York Governor Kathy Hochul is under fire for a surveillance report showing the Empire State paid almost half more 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 prominent donor Hochul than New York State spent last winter when the Omicron variant went viral. installed during the holidays. New York could have saved $286 million if it paid the same price as California.
Records show the Hochul administration purchased 52 million “Carestart” tests, made by New Jersey-based company AccessBio, for $637 million, paying an average of $12.25 per test at taxpayer expense. Instead of purchasing the tests directly from AccessBio, as California had done, New York went through a New Jersey-based intermediary distributor, Digital Gadgets, LLC, the report said.
Digital Gadgets, LLC is owned by a New York family who donated nearly $300,000 to Hochul’s campaign.
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People line up to receive COVID-19 tests in Times Square on February 14, 2022.
(Wang Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Hochul’s gubernatorial opponent, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, responded to the report’s allegations during the campaign trail.
“Kathy Hochul’s campaign receives $300,000 from a donor, then bending and skirting New York’s bidding laws, they end up accepting a contract worth over $600 million, paying more than double the going rate,” Zeldin said Friday, according to NY 1. “Kathy Hochul’s approach to this job is to sell access in a way that even Andrew Cuomo would never have even thought of. It crosses all kinds of lines. And this must be studied. There are so many aspects of this $600 million COVID deal that I absolutely would not have signed.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul at a meeting of the New York State Financial Supervisory Board on Tuesday, September 6, 2022.
(Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A spokesperson for Digital Gadgets told the Times Union that the price paid by New York was “very competitive at the time”, although California paid $6.75 per test through the vendor directly.
“Any implication to the contrary is misleading and deliberately ignores the fact that Digital Gadgets paid more per unit for AccessBio testing than the State of California due to order size and date, risked hundreds of millions of dollars in capital costs to fulfill an order of this size, incurred millions of dollars in costs to charter planes and cover employee overtime over Christmas and New Years, and then also had to meet the later requirement of the state for the tests to have an extended expiration date — requiring the additional supply of materials,” the spokesperson said.
People wait for the COVID-19 test in the Queens borough of New York on December 29, 2021.
(Wang Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Digital Gadgets founder Charlie Tebele also denied any wrongdoing.
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John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, renewed his call for an investigation into the $637 million in public business paid to Digital Gadgets, telling the New York Post that: “there is a dark cloud of pay-to- play hovering over this.”
Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital and covers politics, crime, policing and more. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @danimwallace.
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