Gov Hochul faces more pay-to-play allegations over link between donations and millions in Medicaid

It seems that for New York Governor Kathy Hochul, one possible pay-to-play accusation in a month is just child’s play.

Following a July report which revealed the Tebele family of New York City donated nearly $300,000 to Hochul’s campaign in exchange for $637M million in taxpayer funds to provide the NY Department of Health with at-home COVID-19 test kits, Hochul appears to be facing another financial scandal in which $52,600 in donations has been linked to a company receiving millions in state Medicaid business.

“There’s the appearance of a conflict of interest – even if there isn’t one,” Blair Horner, executive director of the government watchdog New York Public Interest Research Group Executive, told The New York Post on Monday.

Evidently, Medical Answering Services, a transportation facilitator for Medicaid patients on behalf of the state, has donated more than $300,000 to the campaigns of both Hochul and disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“This makes my stomach hurt,” Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher (D-Brooklyn) tweeted Sunday night.

“I do support her run for governor. But I wish this kind of thing, that sure LOOKS like pay to play, wasn’t happening,” Gallagher added.

Considering how closely this new development follows on the heels of July’s apparent pay-to-play scheme, at least one politician thought it was the same story.

“I had to double check that this wasn’t last week’s story on a Hochul contributor getting a massive sweetheart state contract. Governors may change but pay to play just gets bigger,” Howie Hawkins, a former Green Party candidate for governor, tweeted Sunday.

Hochul has accumulated a war chest of more than $34 million in her campaign against Republican nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk). The incumbent Hochul had $11.7 million to spend compared to $1.6 million for Zeldin as of mid-July.

“We must end corruption in Albany. Here’s another big Kathy Hochul donor who wound up with a multi-million contract for Medicaid transportation,” Michael Henry, the GOP nominee for state attorney general, tweeted Sunday.

Naturally, the governor and her campaign managers deny any malfeasance.

“Consistent with Gov. Hochul’s commitment to maintain high ethical standards, campaign contributions have no influence on government decisions,” campaign spokesman Jerrel Harvey recently told the outlet.

It is hoped by Republicans that even the appearance of such scandals will be a liability for Hochul in the upcoming New York gubernatorial election this year, but the GOP has not won a statewide election in two decades.

“We’ve been messaging for some time that you know, she’s a clubhouse politician. And this will just feed in to our arguments,” Conservative Party Chair Gerard Kassar, who is backing Zeldin for governor, said Monday.


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