Charles Tebele, CEO of Digital Gadgets, is suing the state of New York over its procurement process for COVID-19 tests.
Court documents reveal that Tebele sought to secure a $204 million contract for 24 million tests in June, while he and his family donated over $100,000 to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s re-election campaign. The state eventually opted for a bidding process, which Digital Gadgets did not win.
Digital Gadgets had previously signed a $637 million contract with New York in 2021 during the omicron variant outbreak. The deal and donations to Hochul attracted scrutiny after being reported in the Times Union in July 2022. Despite losing the bid, Tebele and his wife donated $235,000 to the state Democratic Party in November.
Tebele claims the donations and his company’s bid were not linked, stating that he has a history of supporting Democrats. The lawsuit, filed in Albany County, is in its initial stages. State officials defended their decision to use competitive bidding, saying it allowed them to obtain cheaper options for COVID tests while maintaining a timely procurement process. Hochul has maintained that political donations have not influenced her administration’s actions.
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