BALTIMORE, Md. (AP) — Maryland officials are seeking an investigation into a politically connected company that contracted to provide the state with $12.5 million worth of personal protective equipment that never arrived.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the state signed a deal on April 1 with Blue Flame Medical LLC for 1.5 million N95 masks and 110 ventilators. But the equipment never showed up and Maryland canceled the contract.
Blue Flame Medical was founded in late March by Mike Gula, a former Republican Party fundraiser, with John Thomas, also a GOP consultant, according to multiple news reports.
“We have determined that since it has been one month since the order was placed with no confirmation of shipment, we are in the process of cancelling the order and have referred this matter to the Attorney General,” Nick Cavey, a spokesman for the state Department of General Services, said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun on Saturday.
A spokeswoman for Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh confirmed receiving a referral about the contract, but declined to comment.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s office referred questions to the Department of General Services.
Officials at Blue Flame sent a text to The Baltimore Sun on Saturday saying the contract wasn’t canceled. They promised to provide more details.
Gula told the Wall Street Journal that under the terms of the deal, the company has until June 30 to fulfill the order.
Hospitals around the country have scrambled to find suppliers as the demand for masks, gowns, gloves, ventilators and testing supplies has skyrocketed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hogan earned national acclaim and was criticized by President Donald Trump for using his connections with South Korean officials to buy 500,000 coronavirus tests from a South Korean company.