US

New York Democratic Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigns after corruption arrest

New York Democratic Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned from office hours after his arrest on Tuesday in connection with a federal corruption conspiracy indictment, Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) announced. .

Hochul, who selected Benjamin to serve as lieutenant governor less than a year ago, said:

I have accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately. As the legal process unfolds, it is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as Lieutenant Governor. New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue to work every day to serve them.

Benjamin’s resignation came hours after he surrendered to federal authorities and was arrested and charged with one count of federal bribery, one count of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit these crimes and two counts of falsification of records.

As the Associated Press reported:

Benjamin was accused of participating in a scheme to obtain campaign contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for Benjamin agreeing to use his influence as a state senator to secure a $50,000 grant. $ of public funds for a not-for-profit organization controlled by the promoter.

[…]

The indictment says Benjamin and others acting under his direction or on his behalf also engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up the scheme.

They falsified campaign donor forms, misled city regulators and provided false information in verification forms Benjamin submitted when he was being considered for lieutenant governor, according to the indictment. charge.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams called Benjamin’s actions a “quid pro quo.”

“It’s a simple story of corruption. Taxpayer money for campaign contributions. A quid quo pro. This for that. It’s bribery, plain and simple,” Williams said at a news conference shortly before Benjamin’s resignation.

Williams also said Benjamin “abused his power” in a written statement.

“As alleged, Brian Benjamin used his power as a New York State senator to secure a state-funded grant in return for contributions to his own political campaigns,” Williams said. “In doing so, Benjamin abused his power and effectively used public funds to support his political campaigns.”

Hochul, who became governor of New York after former Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal, is running for a full term as governor this year with Benjamin as his running mate.

Although Benjamin has resigned, his name will likely still appear on the Democratic primary ballot in June. “Because Mr. Benjamin was nominated as the Democratic Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, his name could only be removed at this point if he were to leave the state, die, or seek another office,” said the New York Times reported.

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