New York Post
Gov’s ‘inside $wab’
Emails bared before $338M COV-test deal
Gov. Hochul talked “community matters” with a high-powered campaign donor weeks before he got a $338 million contract to provide rapid tests as part of an alleged pay-to-play scheme as she ran for a full term of office.
Charlie Tebele, who leads New Jersey-based Digital Gadgets, wrote an email to Hochul policy director Micah Lasher on Dec. 16, 2021, in which he alluded to speaking with Hochul at a fundraiser he hosted for her campaign weeks earlier, The Buffalo News reported Monday.
“We had a conversation with the Governor regarding some community matters when we had her in for a meeting,” Tebele wrote, “and I was asked to reach out to you for follow up.”
Among the topics he listed were “Covid tests — we have a community company that has available supply.” Hours later, he followed up with an email to Lasher headed: “URGENT ADDED INFO.”
“I read that the governor wants to be able to mail instant Covid tests to peoples homes,” Tebele wrote. “My company has the Covid tests in stock and can work with the State to ship them individually to peoples home- the same day we receive the order.”
“I would love to be able to speak to someone and see how we can help with this and partner with the State to solve this immediate problem,” Tebele concluded. “Please let me know when we can chat.”
Hochul’s administration approved the $338 million outlay four days after the email was sent, with a second order worth $299 million a month later.
“There should have been a hearing on this months ago,” said Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay, one of the GOP legislators who has called for an investigation into the matter.
“With every new detail that’s reported, it becomes more clear that the governor has been less than forthcoming about an arrangement that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” he added. “It’s time Democrats in the Legislature do their job and
ask some unpleasant questions.”
“Assembly & Senate Republicans called for an investigation into Gov. Hochul’s COVID test kickback scheme months ago. Where are the Democrats?” Assemblyman Jarett Gandolfo tweeted Monday about the story.
Tebele and his family ultimately contributed roughly $300,000 to
the Hochul campaign, which also hired his son as a staffer.
Hochul has denied that she ever gave special treatment to campaign donors while defending the rapid testing deal as necessary while the state confronted an omicron-fueled surge of COVID-19 cases in late 2021 that strained testing supplies.