Congressman Joe Sempolinski wants probe into Hochul deal | News

WASHINGTON — Congressman Joe Sempolinski, R-23 of Painted Post, has joined a number of elected Republicans calling for an investigation into state purchases of Covid-19 testing kits from a company that made significant contributions to Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign Has .

According to Hochul’s campaign disclosure forms, a November 22, 2021 fundraiser was hosted by Charlie Tebele, the founder of Digital Gadgets LLC. A month later, the company received $637 million in payments from Hochul administration to purchase 52 million home coronavirus tests.

Sempolinski, a Republican who fills the remainder of former Congressman Tom Reed’s seat, said he and several other GOP members of the New York House sent a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for an investigation into the purchase asked.

“Reg. Hochul’s use of taxpayers’ money to buy Covid tests from one of their biggest campaign donors smacks of pay-to-play,” Sempolinski said. β€œIt appears that the governor, like her predecessor (Andrew Cuomo), will use Covid-19 for political ends. For this reason, my colleagues and I have sent a letter to Attorney General Garland, requesting an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident. We need transparency and answers if we’re ever going to clean the stain of corruption in Albany.”

In the letter, Republicans told Garland that the “blatant misuse of New York taxpayers’ money warrants an in-depth investigation into an alleged pay-to-play scheme between the Hochul administration and some of its biggest campaign donors.”

The letter went on to say that “a long litany of political donations intertwined with the Hochul administration’s unaudited government spending goes directly at the expense of hard-earned taxpayer dollars.” With your duty to enforce federal laws and ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice, we ask that you use your position at the Justice Department to promote transparency in government spending and investigate this potential kickback program that has defrauded taxpayers millions of dollars.”

READ :  Wolters Kluwer cloud-based global expert solution named a global leader in cloud computing

State Senator Tom O’Mara, R-58 from Big Flats, has called for a state investigation into the matter.

Hochul claims that when her government paid Digital Gadgets $637 million for Covid-19 tests last winter, she was unaware the recipient was a campaign donor.

“I wasn’t aware that this was a company that had backed me,” Hochul told reporters at a July 20 news conference. “I’m not following that. My team, you have no idea.”

But a month before the Hochul government finalized the deals, records show the company’s founder held a personal fundraiser for them.

The deal was made possible by Hochul’s revived administrative suspension of competition rules on Covid-19 supply purchases – a policy change also introduced for a time by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Hochul issued an emergency order overriding these rules on November 26, four days after the Tebele fundraiser.

A Hochul spokeswoman did not directly address the governor’s July statement that she was unaware that Digital Gadgets had been linked to a campaign supporter.

Hazel Crampton-Hays, a spokeswoman for Hochul, said the governor “did not oversee the procurement process and was not involved in day-to-day procurement decisions.”

The Tebele family has donated nearly $300,000 to Hochul’s campaign, and Tebele held two fundraisers for her campaign: one a month before the orders were filled, and one on April 10, two weeks after the payments were completed.

According to Digital Gadgets, Tebele never spoke to the Hochul campaign about providing the Covid-19 tests. Digital Gadgets, which previously received government contracts, “became aware of the need for testing based on public media reports,” according to the company.

READ :  Metavision event to highlight Dubai Metaverse Strategy - News

Including reporting by the TimesUnion from Albany.