New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin is accusing Governor Kathy Hochul of awarding a no-bid contract for COVID-19 tests to a campaign donor. Zeldin tweeted last week: “Today, Kickback Kathy Hochul’s self-claimed COVID emergency powers finally come to an end. This should have happened a VERY long time ago. With this power, she suspended NY’s competitive bidding laws & awarded an overpriced $600M+ COVID testing contract to one of her top donors.”
According to The Albany Times Union, last year, the Hochul administration paid $637 Million for 52 million COVID tests to Digital Gadgets LLC, which is owned by a family that’s a major donor to the Hochul campaign. The Times Union cited Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the Empire Center for Public Policy, who reviewed the records and was “struck by the significantly higher price” the Hochul administration paid Digital Gadgets, “resulting in hundreds of millions in additional spending.”
But California paid the same company about 45% less per test than New York, which means that had New York paid the same price, it would have saved $286 million.
Zeldin, who represents NY’s 1st District (east Long Island) in the House of Representatives, is trailing the incumbent governor by about 15% (50 – 35). But he has been endorsed by several labor unions, including the Long Island police unions, as well as by center-right Democrats and Jewish politicians in Crown Heights and other NYC neighborhoods. The Bensonhurst-based New Era Democrats, who in the past endorsed Bill de Blasio, now support Zeldin.
Congressman Zeldin has said that Israel is “America’s strongest ally,” and that Congress must “protect Israel’s right to self-defense”. In 2016, he supported anti-BDS legislation that passed the New York State Senate. In March 2017, he co-sponsored a bipartisan bill in the House, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, to oppose boycotts of Israel and “further combat the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.” He supported the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018 as part of the United States recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And he praised the Abraham Accords and nominated Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz for a Nobel Peace Prize for their work on the agreement.
Zeldin was raised as a Conservative Jew. His wife, Diana, is Mormon.
Hochul is Catholic.