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HomeLatestGov. Hochul's no-bid COVID testing contract is sick and wrong

Gov. Hochul’s no-bid COVID testing contract is sick and wrong

Reporting from Albany reveals that Gov. Hochul gave favored insiders — a family that donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to her campaign — a sweetheart deal amounting to $637 million.

The Tebele family, which owns Digital Gadgets, a New Jersey-based fulfillment center and distributor of tech products, got a no-bid deal to provide New York State with 52 million at-home COVID tests for $13 apiece — double what others were charging.

The deal was signed the very same day that Digital Gadgets made the overpriced offer, which Hochul defends on the grounds that the firm was able to “deliver critically important tests” during the overhyped Omicron wave. She insists that the cozy relationship between her campaign and the firm’s owners was not a factor, and she “was not aware” of it at all.

If you enjoy that one, how’d you like to buy the concession rights to a stadium in Buffalo? Envelopes can be found under the nearest table.

The Tebele family, which owns Digital Gadgets, got a no-bid deal to provide New York State with 52 million at-home COVID tests (not pictured) for $13 apiece.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The no-bid procurement arrangement on COVID tests would normally be totally illegal. State purchasing contracts are supposed to be transparent and subject to review before deals are struck.

But these aren’t normal times. New York State has been under a “State of Emergency” in regard to COVID-19 since Andrew Cuomo announced it in March 2020. This “Emergency” means that the state can sign any contract it wants, with anyone, as long as it pertains to protecting New York from the ravages of the coronavirus.

Gov. Hochul keeps renewing her emergency powers, most recently on August 13, even though the CDC has all but admitted that COVID is now a fact of life and that the “emergency” has been over for some time. Hochul has even lifted mask mandates — which were honored more in the breach than the observance — on mass transit.

Even if the governor lifts the COVID emergency order when it expires on Sept. 12, her campaign donors needn’t panic. New York State is still under a State of Emergency for monkeypox, which was renewed at the end of August. And she has just announced a new State of Emergency based on the presence of poliovirus in wastewater in Nassau County.

Rendering of the proposed renovations to Buffalo Bills Highmark Stadium.
The concession rights to the new Buffalo Bills stadium has raised some eyebrows.

No governor, especially one facing a crucial election, can turn down the juicy opportunity to declare an emergency, and Kathy Hochul is no exception. With crime rampant crime, and without the inclination or muscle to force the legislature to do anything about the state’s lunatic no-bail laws, Hochul doesn’t have a lot in her campaign arsenal to boast about. Besides banning guns in Times Square and reminding New Yorkers — again! — that abortion is still legal here, promoting health emergencies is about all she’s got.

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