HYDE PARK, NY—Senator Sue Serino today renews her calls for an immediate investigation into the Hochul administration’s purchase of COVID-19 test kits from a political donor after the Albany Times Union revealed that California bought the same test kits for 45% less than New York State paid. According to the report, if New York had paid the same price as California, taxpayers would have saved $286 million.
Senator Serino also submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) request to the Executive Chamber, Department of Health, Empire State Development, and Office of General Services requesting a copy of all contracts. without competitive bidding and purchases made by the State without Comptroller’s Approval during the pandemic emergency.
“Every day I hear from residents who are struggling to make ends meet and it makes my blood boil when I think of what could have been done with that money to provide relief to them,” said Senator Serino. “It is clear that the Cuomo/Hochul administrations have used the COVID-19 state of emergency to circumvent the competitive bidding process and comptroller oversight, and now the taxpayers of New York must foot the bill for bad deals like this. As legislators, protecting taxpayers’ money and preserving the public trust must be our top priorities, which is why I renew my call for an immediate investigation, and why we won’t stop pushing until New Yorkers get the answers they deserve.
According to reports, Governor Hochul’s administration awarded a $637 million state contract to Digital Gadgets for COVID-19 testing, despite several competitors offering a much cheaper price per test. In turn, Charles Tebele – the CEO of Digital Gadgets – organized a major fundraiser for the Governor’s re-election campaign which raised over $300,000. Mr. Tebele’s business partner and several members of his family have also made significant donations to Governor Hochul’s campaign.
Last week, Senator Serino wrote to Attorney General Letitia James and Albany County Attorney David Soares to request an investigation into the case.
Senator Serino is sponsoring a bill (S.5326) that would have ensured that the comptroller would have been able to perform appropriate and necessary oversight of state contracts, even during a state emergency. Despite the obvious need for such legislation, neither chamber of the Legislative Assembly introduced the bill.
A copy of the FOIL request is attached.