Hochul has no regrets on $637M deal in ‘pay-to-play’ scandal

Gov. Kathy Hochul says she has no regrets about her administration giving $637 million to a COVID fast testing firm tied to $300,000 in marketing campaign money regardless of rising outrage over the alleged pay-to-play scheme.

“I might do that each one once more,” Hochul instructed reporters in Albany on Wednesday.

“I’m at all times seeking to enhance as a result of notion is necessary to me as properly. However the actuality isn’t any contribution has ever had an impact on any choice we make. We comply with the foundations –at all times have at all times will,” she added.

Hochul has maintained a giant lead in polling over Republican gubernatorial nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk) regardless of the litany of alleged schemes involving marketing campaign donors with pursuits as diverse as Medicaid transportation contracts to efforts to overtake the Penn Station space.

Kathy Hochul
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul confronted questions from reporters in regards to the COVID testing contract after delivering remarks on the state’s Division of Felony Justice Providers Public Security Symposium on
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Albany, N.Y.
Hans Pennink

“Kathy Hochul proudly admits she’d repeat her blatant pay-to-play scheme, and that’s exactly the issue in New York,” Meeting Minority Chief William Barclay stated in an announcement.

“Saying she’d do it towards is the primary second of trustworthy she’s offered on this complete ordeal,” Barclay added.

The feedback follows a cascade of revelations in regards to the no-bid deal her administration made late final yr with the NJ-based Digital Devices, which reportedly charged the state twice as a lot as different states paid for a similar exams, the Occasions Union has revealed in a sequence of bombshell reviews.

Digital Devices founder Charlie Tebele hosted a fundraiser for the governor final November simply days earlier than she declared a state of emergency that suspended regular state oversight procedures.

Charlie Tebele
Charlie Tebele’s agency, Digital Devices, scored the contract to supply $637 million in apparently overpriced COVID exams as Telebe and his household household donated almost $300,000 to her marketing campaign

“At finest this was horrendous worth gouging and at worst this was pay-to-play and worth gouging,” John Kaehny, government director of the nice authorities group Reinvent Albany, stated final week after Hochul dismissed criticism about losing taxpayer {dollars}.

And because the cash started rolling into Digital Devices, founder Charlie Tebele and his household continued giving to her marketing campaign, which additionally employed his son.

Tebele hosted one other fundraiser in April weeks forward of the ultimate fee on the deal, the upstate paper has reported.

“Neither Mr. Tebele nor the corporate communicated in any method with the Governor or the Marketing campaign about exams or any firm enterprise, and any implication on the contrary is fake,” Tebele spokesman John Gallagher stated in an electronic mail final week.

Hochul has defended the acquisition of 52 million exams, lots of which stay unused, by saying the state wants as many as doable to maintain colleges open because the omicron wave of COVID-19 circumstances swept throughout New York originally of the yr.

COVD-19 test kits
Political opponents and good authorities teams say {that a} main donor to Gov. Kathy Hochul scored a sweetheart deal to supply COVID exams like these.

“They did what they did,” Hochul instructed The Submit when requested whether or not she was holding anybody chargeable for the controversial purchases.

Her feedback Wednesday adopted a query about what efforts her marketing campaign has made to keep away from the looks of battle of pursuits contemplating ongoing considerations in regards to the jumbo-sized warfare chest she has constructed whereas operating for a full time period in workplace.

“When it comes to managing our fundraising operations and take a look at my occasions, no authorities employees are allowed there. That could be a direct distinction to have previous practices,” she stated.

Her former political ally, ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, confronted criticized for showing at fundraisers alongside highly effective officers like state Price range Director Robert Mujica earlier than he resigned in shame amid a number of scandals final yr.

“Solely the voters can maintain her & her administration accountable,” Republican comptroller candidate Paul Rodriguez tweeted Wednesday morning in regards to the pay-to-play scandal amid ongoing silence from prime Albany Democrats.

A Zeldin spokeswoman didn’t present remark by publication time.

“The governor attended an in-person fundraiser hosted by the donor and employed one among his relations, however claims she was unaware of any connection,” Barclay stated.

“It’s laughable,” he added.

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