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Sen. O’Mara calls on committee to investigate Hochul’s $637M COVID test contract

New York State Senator Tom O’Mara is calling on Senate Investigations Chair James Skoufis and the Senate Democrat Majority to investigate reports that Governor Kathy Hochul met directly with a large donor to her campaign, whose company was awarded a $637 million state contract for COVID-19 tests. The allegations, which were first revealed last year, suggest that the Governor used a State of Emergency to advance a no-bid process favoring Charles Tebele and his family – prominent donors to the Governor’s campaign – and their company Digital Gadgets, which supplied Covid tests to New York at prices nearly double the amount other states paid.

In a letter sent to Senator Skoufis, Senator O’Mara wrote, “As legislators, we have a duty to protect taxpayer dollars and investigate any suspected misuse. While I understand the Senate Majority would prefer to take the Governor at her word, New York taxpayers deserve transparency and accountability. With New York paying 45% more for these tests than other states paid, it is not acceptable to simply blame the timing of the purchase. I urge my colleagues across the aisle to do the right thing and help us restore public trust by immediately launching an investigation into this critical issue.”

For years, Senate Republicans have called on the Governor and Legislative Majorities to end the COVID-19 State of Emergency, which gave the Executive authority to skirt state procurement laws with no oversight. These calls for checks and balances have been met with consistent silence and inaction from the Senate Democrat Majority.

In addition, Senator O’Mara and Senate Republicans have repeatedly called on Senator Skoufis and the Senate Democrat Majority to conduct an investigation into disgraced ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo’s coverup of nursing home deaths in New York State. Though the current Governor last year commissioned an “outside review” into New York’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will ultimately be overseen by officials in her administration.