Andrea Stewart-Cousins gained’t tackle $637 million Hochul ‘pay-to-play’ scandal

State Senate Majority Chief Andrea Stewart-Cousins repeatedly refused to weigh in Thursday on the $637 million “pay-to-play” scandal engulfing Gov. Kathy Hochul — saying she was happy together with her fellow Democrat’s imprecise denial of wrongdoing.

At an unrelated press convention in her district, Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) — who together with Hochul and Meeting Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) controls the state’s legislative agenda — wouldn’t reply a query from The Put up about Republican calls for for the Legislature to launch probes into the COVID-19 take a look at contracts awarded to one of Hochul’s top campaign donors.

“I don’t have a touch upon that,” Stewart-Cousins mentioned.

“I definitely know the GOP has known as for it, they usually mentioned — clearly, I feel the governor has answered. At this level I’m not responding.”

The state’s No. 3 elected official additionally wouldn’t reply when reminded by the identical reporter of her partisan assaults over the 2015 corruption conviction of Republican predecessor Dean Skelos, or tackle a current accusation by Meeting Minority Chief William Barclay (R-Fulton) that Democratic legislators have been “overlaying up for certainly one of their very own.”

“I don’t actually have something that I can enlighten you with proper now,” Stewart-Cousins responded.

State Senate Majority Chief Andrea Stewart-Cousins is happy with Kathy Hochul’s solutions on the matter.
AP/Hans Pennink

Heastie didn’t return a request for remark concerning a possible probe.

Hochul, who faces challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Lengthy Island) within the Nov. 8 election, has been on the defensive because it was revealed in July that New Jersey-based Digital Devices was paid $637 million to produce the state with 52 million COVID-19 take a look at kits.

The buyer know-how firm is owned by Manhattan resident Charlie Tebele, who, along with his household, has contributed about $330,000 to Hochul’s marketing campaign.

Tebele’s no-bid contracts charged New York a median of $12.25 per package, over 80% greater than the $6.75 that California paid for the very same at-home speedy assessments, in accordance with the Albany Instances Union, which first uncovered the deal.

Earlier this week, the paper additionally revealed Hochul suspended competitive-bidding guidelines for the acquisition of pandemic-related provides simply 4 days after Tebele hosted a Nov. 22 fundraiser for her.

The funds to his firm started a month later, in accordance with the Instances Union.

In her most intensive public feedback thus far concerning the take care of Digital Devices, Hochul insisted to reporters on July 20, “I used to be not conscious that this was an organization that had been supportive of me.”

Stewart-Cousins mentioned she didn’t “have a touch upon that” when requested concerning the Hochul scandal.
Getty Pictures for Concordia Summi

“I don’t preserve monitor of that. My crew, they do not know,” she added.

State Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy, an upstate Congressional candidate, known as Democratic refusals to research Hochul “a primary instance of the comfy, corrupt cabal that we are attempting to interrupt up by returning steadiness and accountability to Albany.”

“Democrats have all turned a blind eye to one another’s corruption and Hochul is aware of she doesn’t must reply to the legislature or [Democratic Attorney General Letitia James], butt we’re urging voters who’re sick of the corruption to take their energy again and throw her out of workplace this November,” he mentioned.

US Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn), a former member of the state Meeting, mentioned Stewart-Cousins “ought to care that her constituents are being fleeced by our governor and compelled to pay twice as a lot for COVID assessments bought to the state by certainly one of her largest marketing campaign donors.”

“That is corruption and New Yorkers deserve solutions and accountability,” she added.

Senate Minority Chief Rob Ortt (R-Lockport) accused Democrats in his chamber of “giving a move to corruption inside their very own occasion.”

“If the Senate Democrats wish to have any credibility relating to restoring the folks’s religion of their authorities, they may cease being complicit and start a direct investigation into these disturbing allegations,” he mentioned.

Former Republican US Sen. Al D’Amato known as the Digital Devices deal “unimaginable” and mentioned Hochul was making her predecessor — former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned over sexual harassment allegations — “appear like a choir boy.”

“New York spent twice as a lot as California. It’s legal,” he mentioned.

“She bought herself for $300,000 in contributions.”

Nick Langworthy
Nick Langworthy slammed the refusals to research Hochul.
AP Picture/Seth Wenig

US Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Glens Falls) predicted that “Stewart-Cousins’ dismissal of corrupt Kathy Hochul’s pay-for-play scheme is why Republicans will surge to victory throughout New York State this November.”

“New Yorkers have had sufficient of the rampant corruption in Albany,” she mentioned.

In the meantime, John Kaehny, government director of the Reinvent Albany reform group, mentioned he thought it was politically “prudent” for Stewart-Cousins to stay mum as a result of “it’s a couple of months out from the election and he or she doesn’t wish to give the opposite occasion one thing to run with.”

“There’s nonetheless a number of primary questions round this that if I used to be the Senate chief I’d wish to know: How did this come to move? What have been the conversations with Tebele?” he mentioned.

“She may additionally say that it behooves the governor to return clear on this and dispel these accusations.”

Kaehny additionally mentioned his group has “known as for a federal investigation as a result of the take a look at kits have been bought with federal cash” and since “the federal authorities is healthier outfitted to completely examine this.”

When requested for remark, Hochul’s press secretary referred to a Tuesday assertion that denied Tebele’s donations had an impact on his contracts and mentioned the governor “didn’t oversee the procurement course of and was not concerned within the day-to-day procurement selections.”

“She merely instructed her crew to buy as many out there assessments as doable to fulfill the great want throughout the state, they usually did precisely that to maintain New Yorkers secure,” the assertion mentioned.

A James spokesperson declined to remark.

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