Hochul called COVID an “emergency” after the donor donated with the Test Contract’s $637 million fundraiser

Political donor Charle Tebele hosted a fundraiser for Gov. Kathy Hochul last November — just four days before she declared a state of emergency that paved the way for his company to secure $637 million in government contracts without a tender.

The startling revelation, unveiled by the Times Union on Tuesday, has sparked renewed calls for state or federal officials to investigate the alleged pay-to-play scheme involving New Jersey-based distributor Digital Gadget, which just a few weeks after the November 22 fundraiser was inked.

The state bought 52 million tests from Digital Gadget at about double the price of places like California that bought direct from a manufacturer — all while Tebele and family members poured $300,000 into Hochul’s campaign.

“Kathy Hochul has awarded a top campaign backer a $600 million no-bid contract after unilaterally suspending the New York Bids Act. On the same day that the donor offered to be the go-between for the COVID tests, Hochul agreed to pay double the price,” their Republican challenger, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk), said. tweeted Tuesday.

“Where’s AG, prosecutors and comptrollers?” he added.

Kathy Hochul.

Governor Kathy Hochul received $300,000 from Charlie Tebele’s fundraiser.

Charlie Teebele.

Charlie Tebele is the CEO and Founder of Digital Gadgets.

COVID tests.

Digital Gadgets received from Gov. Kathy Hchul and New York double the cost of COVID testing.

Digital Gadgets received payments from the state about a month after the Nov. 22 fundraiser, which came four days before the official state of emergency was declared, which it ended earlier this month and which suspended normal state contracting rules.

The Hochul government, which has denied wrongdoing, has justified the payments as saying it needs to buy rapid tests quickly to keep schools open amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Spokespersons for the administration, their campaign and Digital Gadgets did not respond to requests for comment as of the time of publication. Hochul called COVID an “emergency” after the donor donated with the Test Contract’s $637 million fundraiser


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