Despite denials she knew he was a donor, company exec threw fundraiser for Hochul just weeks before scoring $637 million no-bid deal


The following may included content which is editorial in nature and represents the opinion of the writer.

ALBANY, NY- Well, it looks like New York State’s hack attorney general, Letitia James, is investigating the wrong candidate for governor.

Just a day after it was announced that Republican Lee Zeldin’s campaign is being investigated for something, the Times Union is reporting that Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul was the beneficiary of a fundraiser thrown by a business owner only weeks before he scored a no-bid, $637 million state contract for overpriced COVID-19 tests.

When previously questioned about the lucrative contract in July, Hochul told reporters that she was “not aware” that the recipient was a campaign donor.

As Maury Povich used to say, “we have determined that was a lie.”

“I was not aware that this was a company that had been supportive of me,” Hochul told a press gaggle at a July 20 press briefing. “I don’t keep track of that. My team, they have no idea.”

So given Hochul’s adamant denial, it seems a bit odd that only a month before the no-bid contract was awarded, the founder of the company in question, Charlie Tebele, threw an in-person fundraiser for Hochul. How weird is that?

The Times Union writes that according to Hochul campaign disclosure forms, a fundraiser was held on Nov. 22, 2021, by Tebele, founder of Digital Gadgets LLC. Only a month later, Digital Gadgets LLC was granted the $637 million no-bid contract from the Hochul administration to provide 52 million at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests.

Hochul timed an executive order perfectly, which reimplemented a waiver of competitive bidding rules for the administration’s purchase of COVID-19 supplies, initially put in place by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That order suspended the rules once again on Nov. 26, just four days after Tebele threw the fundraising feat for Hochul. Probably just an odd coincidence.

A spokesperson for Hochul denied she oversaw the procurement process, however, didn’t address Hochul’s July statement where she denied Digital Gadgets was affiliated with a campaign supporter. The spokesperson, Hazel Crampton-Hays said Hochul “was not involved in the day-to-day procurement decisions.”

“She simply instructed her team to purchase as many available tests as possible to meet the tremendous need across the state, and they did exactly that to keep New Yorkers safe. As we have always said, campaign donations do not have any influence on government decisions and we reject any implication otherwise,” Crampton-Hays said.

We’ll take things that are a crock for $500 Alex.

Between Tebele and his family, they donated a cool $300,000 to Hochul’s campaign war chest, with Tebele being responsible for facilitating two campaign fundraisers. The one before the purchase orders were executed and another one perfectly timed on April 10, two weeks after the payments were completed. Just a coincidence, of course.

However the Times Union further reports that in cases involving other campaign donors, emails indicate Hochul has discussed government business at fundraisers, while her campaign staff connected those donors with high-ranking Hochul staffers.

In July, Tebele told the Times Union that, “Mr. Tebele has never had a conversation about (Department of Health) business with the governor—ever.”

A spokesperson for Digital Gadgets insists that Tebele never spoke to Hochul or her campaign about providing the COVID-19 tests, and claimed the company became “aware of the need for tests based on public media reports.”

However suspiciously, Digital Gadgets refused to divulge how it became aware of the sale via the Hochul administration. Moreover, Hochul’s campaign has also refused to answer questions about interaction between its staff or Hochul with the company.

Digital Gadgets soaked New York taxpayers for the tests, charging much higher prices per test than other vendors which were used by the state last winter. For example, California bought the same test Tebele was selling for a price of 45 percent less per unit.

Instead of following the lead of California and buying the AccessBio “Carestart” test directly from the manufacturer, the Hochul administration purchased the tests through Digital Gadgets, acting as a third-party distributor which of course took a cut of the proceeds.

Meanwhile Zeldin last week called for an investigation into the sweetheart deal Hochul arranged for one of her leading fundraisers, according to the Daily Mail.

“Kathy Hochul’s campaign receives $300,000 from a donor, ant then going around and circumventing New York’s competitive bidding laws, they end up agreeing to an over $600 million contract, paying over twice the going rate.”

Zeldin further accused Hochul of repeatedly skirting ethics and possibly the law in how she operates.

“Kathy Hochul’s approach to this job is one of selling access in a way that even Andrew Cuomo would never even think of. This crosses all sorts of lines. And it must be investigated.”

Continuing, Zeldin said, “There are so many aspects of this $600 million COVID deal that I absolutely would not have signed off on.”

But hey, Hochul’s a Democrat in New York State so she’ll probably get away with it while James chases her tail trying to “get” Trump (and now Zeldin).

For our previous story on Hochul’s financial hijinks, we invite you to:


The following contains editorial content which is the opinion of the writer. 

ALBANY, NY- And here we thought Washington, D.C. was the only “swamp.”

The Daily Wire reports that Invisalign candidate and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) was allegedly given hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds while the Empire State responded in kind by paying the family’s company over half a billion dollars.

Quid pro quo anyone?

The outlet reports that the family of New York City businessman Charlie Tebele donated nearly $300,000 to Hochul’s gubernatorial campaign, as outlined in an investigative report filed by the Times Union this past week.

Since December, Digital Gadgets LLC, a New Jersey-based company owned by Tebele has been paid some $637 million dollars in taxpayer funds to provide the Hochul-controlled Department of Health with at-home COVID-19 test kits.

Competitive bidding? Not in this case…Digital Gadgets gained the contract without a competitive bidding process, the Times Union report found.

Digital Gadgets was initially a wholesaler of products such as hoverboards and other electronic devices, typically selling its products to companies like QVC, the home shopping network. However when the pandemic struck, the company apparently saw an opportunity and changed over to supplying medical equipment.

As is typical in blue states such as New York, the politically-connected company started to get lucrative government contracts in the state.

The Times Union notes that even though the company “has not always delivered as promised,” that mattered little since it continued to be the recipient of major government handouts, er payments.

All the while of course, the family has been donating significant sums to certain politicians, Hochul among them.

According to New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s OpenBookNY website, payments to Digital Gadgets began on Dec. 30 and the Department of Health made 239 separate payments to the company through March 25. Those payments started four months after Hochul was sworn in as New York governor after the resignation of Andrew Cuomo.

One minor issue…the comptroller’s website shows no record of a formal contract being signed between Tebele’s company and the Department of Health.

In fact, a spokesperson in DiNapoli’s office, Jennifer Freeman said that no such formal contract exists. Instead, she said the department entered into “purchase orders” with the company.

“These purchase orders did not come to (DiNapoli’s office) for review and approval,” Freeman said.

In a case of impeccable timing, Hochul signed an executive order on Nov. 26 declaring yet another COVID-19 state of emergency which suspended some areas of state finance laws.

Pretty convenient, especially when you can pad your campaign coffers in the process. One area that was suspended was competitive bidding for certain contracts, as well as standard contract review and approval processes normally conducted out of the comptroller’s office.

Mad with power as most Democratic governors are, Hochul continues to extend the emergency executive orders on a monthly basis, with the latest one set to expire on August 13. Don’t bet on it.

Despite the fact the COVID pandemic has pretty much subsided and the American people have tired of dealing with the constant mandates, blue states like New York continue to milk it for everything its worth. And that includes spending tons of taxpayer dollars on things such as at-home tests.

According to Bryan Lessing, a Hochul senior advisor, the $637 million spent on at-home testing kits has been done in order to protect “vulnerable” New Yorkers from the highly transmissible (though very mild) omicron strain of the virus. He said during last winter’s spike at-home tests were difficult to come by amidst demand.

“Digital Gadgets successfully delivered all the tests the state needed within the required timeline,” Lesswing said.

He noted there were two purchase orders totaling 52 million tests, with one purchase order being for $13 per test and the other $11.50 per test.

“Given the circumstances and urgency of the situation, the state determined the price was fair and it was in the state’s best interest to move forward with the procurement,” Lesswing said.

Especially if you’re getting 300 large for your campaign in return.

He claims the state contacted multiple vendors and Digital Gadgets was the only one which could satisfy the needs of the state, which was to provide a large number of tests prior to schools reopening in January 2022. He claims the state also obtained tests from seven additional vendors.

Tebele’s attorney Harlan Lazarus issued a statement in which he said Tebele “supplied tens of millions of tests” to the state “in record time” when the federal government was having trouble obtaining the tests. Lazarus also claimed that Tebele had never spoken with Hochul about the testing procurement.

The Daily Caller said Tebele and his wife Nancy have an extended history as political donors in the state, with each donating $69,700 individually to Hochul’s campaign, the maximum allowed by law.

Digital Gadgets has scored a number of lucrative contracts with the state over the years. For example, the Times Union reported they scored two contracts for medical equipment under the Cuomo administration; one, a $100,00 contract has seen no money paid out, while another $600,000 contract saw the money returned.

They also received $119 million in an emergency no-bid contract for COVID equipment in spring 2020 from former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration ironically right after donating about $44,000 to de Blasio’s campaigns and related PACs.

In another stroke of sheer irony, Hochul’s campaign, as well as de Blasio’s presidential campaign hired a Tebele family member, a college student for the tidy sum of $3,700 per month to act as a campaign fundraising “finance associate.”

In addition, a number of Tebele family members are listed in campaign finance filings as having the same residential address; “state law prohibits political donors from being reimbursed for someone else for campaign donations,” the Daily Caller said.

In response, Tebele’s attorney said the children “are successful businesspeople in their own right” and decide political donations “independent of their father.”

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