NY exec who landed no-bid contract held fundraiser for Hochul weeks earlier

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A COVID-19 test provider threw an in-person fundraiser for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul just a month before securing a hyper-lucrative deal to provide tests for the state. 

Digital Gadgets LLC founder Charlie Tebele hosted a fundraising event for Hochul on Nov. 22, 2021, the Times-Union reports. 

NY GOV. HOCHUL UNDER FIRE FOR COVID TEST DEMOCRAT DONOR DEAL WEEK BEFORE ABSENTEE BALLOTS SENT OUT

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference on Aug. 3, 2022, in New York City.

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference on Aug. 3, 2022, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Charlie and wife Nancy Tebele share a residence with two other Tebeles, James and Leon. James Teble was later selected as a finance associate with the campaign, paid full time. On Dec. 16, Leon Tebele made a donation of $20,000 to the Hochul campaign. 

Altogether, the Tebele family has donated approximately $300,000 to the Hochul campaign, according to the Times-Union. On Dec. 20, Hochul and Digital Gadgets LLC agreed on a $637 million deal to provide the state with millions of COVID-19 tests.

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Rep. Lee Zeldin

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Rep. Lee Zeldin (Getty Images)

The Times Union first reported that California paid 45% less for rapid COVID-19 tests from a prominent Hochul donor than New York state spent last winter when the omicron variant took hold around the holidays. New York could have saved $286 million if it paid the same price as California.

Records show Hochul’s administration purchased 52 million of the “Carestart” tests, manufactured by the New Jersey-based firm AccessBio, for $637 million, forking over an average of $12.25 per test on the taxpayers’ dime. Instead of buying the tests directly from AccessBio, as California had done, New York went through an intermediary, New Jersey-based distributor Digital Gadgets LLC, the report says. 

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The Assembly Chamber during a legislative session at the state Capitol, April 8, 2022, in Albany, New York.

The Assembly Chamber during a legislative session at the state Capitol, April 8, 2022, in Albany, New York. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, renewed his call for an investigation into the $637 million in state business paid to the Digital Gadgets, telling the New York Post that: “there is a dark cloud of pay-to-play hanging over this.” 

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.

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