New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Arrested on Federal Bribery Charge – Opinion

New York’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin surrendered to authorities on Tuesday following an indictment for conspiracy to commit bribery.

Benjamin was elected in May 2017, during a special election. From 2017 through 2021, he was a senator. After that, he ran as NYC Comptroller. However, he lost the primary. Benjamin was promoted to Lt. Governor was appointed by Governor Kathy Hochul in August 2021, following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.

The indictment concerns an alleged campaign scheme in connection with Benjamin’s unsuccessful bid for Comptroller. The NY Times reports:

F.B.I. investigated the matter and led to the indictment. and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, accused Mr. Benjamin of conspiring to direct state funds to a Harlem real estate investor in exchange for orchestrating thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Mr. Benjamin’s unsuccessful 2021 campaign for New York City comptroller, the people said. In November, the federal charges were brought against Benjamin.

The five-count indictment also charges that Benjamin “engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up the scheme,” including falsifying campaign forms and lying on the background check run in connection with his appointment to the Lt. Gov. position.

The Times reported that Benjamin had indicated in recent times that he was cooperating with law enforcement regarding the matter, but stated that he expects to be freed from the situation.

This is an interesting development for June’s primary.

There will likely be pressure on Mr. Benjamin to quit his office. Although he may resign, Benjamin will still be eligible to vote in June when he takes on two enthusiastic primary opponents. Because Mr. Benjamin was designated as the Democratic Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, his name can only be removed at this point if he were to move out of the state, die or seek another office.

At this point, Benjamin’s troubles do not appear to implicate Governor Hochul.

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