NewsPublic Affairs / May 25, 2020

Exec Gave $50K To Governor Ahead Of State Virus Testing Deal

Exec Gave $50K To Governor Ahead Of State Virus Testing Deal

Gov. Eric Holcomb and the state health department said he had no involvement in the contract with OptumServe.

FILE PHOTO: Lauren Chapman/IPB News

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The state’s award of a $17.9 million contract for operating dozens of coronavirus testing sites across Indiana came weeks after a company executive gave $50,000 to the governor’s reelection campaign.

The campaign contribution to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb by Optum executive Grant Verstandig was made March 4, WANE-TV of Fort Wayne reported.

That was just as the coronavirus outbreak was reaching the U.S., but state officials announced April 28 the selection of company subsidiary OptumServe Health Services for the project to significantly increase COVID-19 testing with 50 locations around the state.

Holcomb and the state health department said he had no involvement in the contract with OptumServe, which was awarded without a bidding process that takes weeks to complete.

“It was the only vendor in the nation able to stand up statewide testing on the timetable needed by the state and had already done so in California,” the health department said.

Verstandig is chief digital officer of Optum, which is a division of Minnesota-based insurance giant UnitedHealth Group.

The contribution came after Holcomb met Verstandig earlier this year, said Holly Lawson, a spokeswoman for Holcomb’s campaign. The governor's campaign has raised more than $9 million for his reelection.

Optum said “this was an individual contribution by an employee, all of whom make their own personal decisions about participation in political and civic activities.”

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