Republican candidate for governor Lee Zeldin is calling for an investigation into the $637 million in spending by Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration to buy rapid COVID-19 tests last winter.
The Times Union reported last week that California paid 45% less per test from the same company as New York. If New York paid the same price as California when buying its 52 million tests, the state would’ve saved $286 million.
“This needs to be investigated,” Zeldin said in a press conference. “I would love to know what the attorney general of New York thinks about this case. What does the New York State comptroller think about this?”
California bought directly from the manufacturer of COVID tests. That company is known as AccessBio, a New-Jersey based entity. Meanwhile, New York purchased the tests through AccessBio, but through a third party distributor known as Digital Gadgets LLC.
Digital Gadgets is owned by a New York City family that’s given nearly $300,000 to Hochul’s re-election campaign.
“I would love for the Hochul administration to tell you about how they tried to go directly to that company to get it from them directly — to cut out the middle man — as was their duty, as stewards of tax dollars,” Zeldin added during the press conference.
The state Department of Health has not commented on the matter, and spokespeople for Hochul have not addressed by the state opted to buy from a third party, rather than directly from the company.
Three other vendors charged New York no more than $7.80 per test when purchasing COVID tests in large quantity. Meanwhile, Digital Gadgets charged an average of $12.25 per test for the 52 million they purchased at the time.