Medicaid firm couple awards millions in NY contracts, distributes $300K in charity to Hochul, Cuomo

Records reviewed by The Post show that a couple with a firm awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid transportation contracts over the years brought in more than $300,000 to the campaign coffers of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and current Gov. Cathy Hochul. is of.

Critics say the donation is a textbook case of Albany’s pay-to-play culture that allows bidders and contractors to make massive campaign contributions to the governor, whose agencies oversee them. By comparison, New York City law limits donations from bidders and contractors to the mayor and business to Big Apple agencies to $400.

Medical Answering Services, a firm founded by President Russ Maxwell in 2004, was awarded eight contracts totaling $403.7 million by the state’s health department from 2011 to 2018. Four contracts do not expire until the following year.

Maxwell and her husband, Morgan McDooley, dropped $236,000 into Cuomo’s campaign coffers over those years.

The couple have dumped a combined more than $100,000 into Hochul’s campaign treasury, under Cuomo as governor and lieutenant governor — and as the Hochul-controlled state Democratic Committee.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo received $236,000 in campaign donations from the couple over the years.
AP/Richard Drew

For example, McDoll made three contributions totaling $52,600 to Hochul over the past year – $22,600 on January 8, 2021, $10,000 on September 9, 2021, immediately after becoming governor, and $20,000 on April 24 of this year.

McDooley made another $20,000 donation to the Hochul-affected state Democratic Party on April 27 of this year.

Meanwhile, Maxwell has donated $32,100 to Hochul and $176,000 to Cuomo since 2018 during his tenure. McDoll donated another $60,000 to Cuomo.

“This is a perfect example that shows how lax state campaign finance laws are,” said John Kehney, director of the government watchdog group Reinvent Albany.

“It feels like pay to play. It destroys public confidence in the government. The government of New York City is the head of state on this.”

Senate Elections Committee Chairman Gelnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) passed a bill that would Ban campaign contributions During a bidding process and six months after the prize is awarded to a winning bidder. But the law stalled in the state assembly.

“New York State’s purse is huge. Any bidder seeking taxpayer dollars should be free of political influence,” Myrie said.

“The proposal is about restoring confidence in the bidding process which has been lacking. With the current system it seems that people will have to donate to the campaign to lubricate the wheels. this is unacceptable.”

A representative for Maxwell insisted that the contractor and his spouse’s donations were not tied to the contracts awarded to his firm. Eight contracts range from $15 million to $120 million to provide transportation to Medicaid recipients in all parts of the state, including New York City, records with the Comptroller’s Office show.

Maxwell’s spokesman Patrick McCarthy said, “Russ Maxwell has been involved in state and local politics for more than 30 years, including a run for the state legislature in 1992. He has supported numerous candidates and political causes.”

“Russ and her husband supported former Governor Cuomo’s efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, and she has known Governor Hochul from decades prior to his days at the Hamburg Town Board, and as [Erie] County Clerk. Russ supports candidates for office who have a vision for the future of New York, that the future is important to Russell, his family, and the hundreds of men and women who work at MAS.

The representative also noted that Maxwell has helped the state achieve savings and efficiency in New York’s highest-in-the-nation Medicaid budget, which provides publicly funded health insurance coverage to those in need.

Prior to the first state contract award, Maxwell’s contribution was more modest. For example, he made two contributions of $1,000 and $500 to gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer in 2005.

Subsequently, Maxwell donated $25,000 to Cuomo’s campaign committee on July 9, 2012, and he continued to make substantial contributions to Cuomo as more contracts were renewed or awarded.

Hochul and Cuomo, both criticized for aggressive fundraising of people doing business before the state, insisted they were not influenced by campaign donations.

“In line with Governor Hochul’s commitment to maintaining high ethical standards, campaign contributions have no impact on government decisions,” said Hochul campaign spokesman Jarrell Harvey.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said, “Can’t talk about how things are currently, but the contract was always done at the agency level – period. Albany has two unshakable rules that critics like to criticize and the newspaper.” I like to read their names.”

The Health Department said Maxwell’s firm was awarded the contract on merit after a competitive bidding — without participation from the governor’s office.

“The Department of Health has contracted with this vendor for more than a decade to provide critical transportation services to Medicaid patients and, following a competitive bidding process, will provide this vendor with non-emergency medical care in the state’s fiscal year 2020. Has awarded authorized purchases under the budget of 21. Transportation brokerage management services for New Yorkers enrolled in the Medicaid program,” said Cort Rudy, a spokesman for the state Department of Health.

“The procurement assessed both technical and cost considerations as outlined in the RFP and in accordance with state finance legislation. The Executive Chamber does not provide input on procurement managed by the Department and has no involvement in the selection of the award winner.”

Hochul has faced scrutiny for months for renewing a state of emergency for COVID-19 that has suspended the state’s procurement rules, the Times Union recently reported, called Digital Gadgets. A rapid testing company — led by a campaign donor — secure $637 million. – Bid business from the state health department from December.

Company owner Charlie Tebelle and his family have given Hochul nearly $300,000 as she runs for her position against Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin.

Hochul has also collected huge contributions from other firms including the first business from the state – cannabis operators, film companies, casino operators and the real estate industry.

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