LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Justice Department has launched investigation into mask deals orchestrated by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
In the rush to procure personal protective equipment as coronavirus was starting to spread in California, the state cut checks for millions of dollars in deals for face masks that eventually fell apart.
One deal involved a company in Virginia that claimed it could supply tens of millions of masks, but it didn’t. The state wired nearly half a billion to the company, but the bank receiving the wired money suspected fraud, tipped off the FBI and returned the money to California, according to the Sacramento Bee.
In another deal, the state made a deal with a Chinese company for a billion dollars worth of masks at about just over $3 each, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, the company is way behind, and critics say the state could have gotten the masks at better prices.
Newsom defended the deal at his nightly coronavirus briefing.
“Here’s the good news. We got the early deliveries on that contract, that came in earlier than we expected, and they’ve been coming in consistently,” Newsom said. “We negotiated a pretty good price in the middle of all this. Remember they were buying some masks, 12 bucks a mask, other states, the federal government, $6, $7, $8 a mask.”
The state is getting a refund of nearly $250 million because of the delays.