Did a $300,000 donation turn into a $637,000,000 sale?
By Andrew Harris
As the race for NY Governor tightens, local Republicans are putting the heat on the incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul. Corning based state assemblyman Phil Palmesano’s office issued this statement today:
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) renewed his calls for an immediate investigation into allegations that Gov. Kathy Hochul participated in a pay-to-play scheme involving a $637 million taxpayer-funded payout to one of her top campaign donors. Palmesano was among the members of the Assembly Minority Conference’s Ways and Means Committee who originally called for an investigation into the potential quid pro quo of this scheme involving the purchase of overpriced COVID test kits when it was first reported more than three months ago.
“It’s often said in Albany that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and less than a year after pledging to do better than her disgraced predecessor Andrew Cuomo, we are now finding out Kathy Hochul has been walking in his footsteps all along,” said Palmesano. “New Yorkers have lost confidence with their statewide officials, but worse, taxpayers can no longer afford to foot the bill for political kickbacks and unethical behavior. Not only is this unethical, but it’s a complete abuse of taxpayers’ money. It’s time to stop the corruption, and an investigation must commence immediately.”
As first reported in Albany’s The Times Union, New Jersey-based company Digital Gadgets, LLC was paid $637 million by Hochul’s office for the purchase of COVID tests, averaging $12.25 per test, when other companies were offering them for an average price of $5 each. The State of California paid 45% less for the same tests, it is reported that New York would have saved $286 million in taxpayer dollars at the California rate. Additionally, the contract was awarded without any oversight or competitive bidding because the governor had used her “emergency powers” invoked during the pandemic that allowed her to spend tax dollars freely and without approval from the state comptroller as is usually the case.
The contract was awarded to Digital Gadgets, LLC after its owner, Charlie Tebele, threw an in-person fundraiser for the governor and contributed $300,000 to her campaign, making him one of her largest campaign donors. She also rewarded Tebele by giving his son a job on her campaign.
Palmesano and members of the Assembly Minority Conference have repeatedly called on the state Attorney General’s Office and colleagues across the aisle on the Assembly Investigations and Ways and Means committees to convene public hearings or investigations; however, they have not taken any action. “
Hochul’s opponent in the Governor’s race, Congressman Lee Zeldin, has been gaining ground in the polls in recent weeks. In a race that many had called for Hochul months ago, many are not seconding guessing those instincts. RealClearPolitics.com, which provides an average of many leading polls, has Hochul up in the race by just over 6 points.
The Hornell Sun in upstate Steuben county, currently has Zeldin leading Hochul by 3 points. It isn’t too late to vote in that weekly poll which runs through Friday. Vote today in that poll brought to you by the Pekarek Law Group, if you haven’t already: