New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin of the Democratic Party has resigned from office following his arrest on a federal bribery conspiracy indictment
Hochul, who picked Benjamin as her lieutenant governor less than a year ago, said:
“I’ve accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation, which has been effective immediately. While the legal procedure plays out, it is obvious to us that he will not be able to continue in his position as Lieutenant Governor. New Yorkers demand complete trust in their government, and I will continue to work hard every day to give it to them.”
Benjamin surrendered to federal authorities and was arrested and charged with one count of federal bribery, one count of wire fraud, one county of conspiracy to commit those offenses, and two counts of falsifying records less than an hour after he tendered his resignation.
Reported by the Associated Press:
Benjamin was charged with engaging in a conspiracy to accept campaign contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for Benjamin’s promise to use his power as a state senator to secure a $50,000 grant of state funds for a nonprofit organization controlled by the developer.
“The complaint said Benjamin, as well as others acting on his behalf or at his direction, engaged in a number of lies and deceptions to conceal the scheme.”
“They altered campaign finance forms, misled municipal authorities, and gave false information while Benjamin was under consideration to be named lieutenant governor, according to the indictment.”
Benjamin’s conduct, according to US Attorney Damian Williams, was “a quid pro quo.”
“This is a straightforward tale of corruption. Campaign contributions with taxpayer money. A quid pro quo takes place. This for that. That’s bribery, plain and simple,” Williams stated at a press conference just before Benjamin’s resignation.
In a written statement, Williams said that Benjamin “misused his power.”
“Brian Benjamin allegedly abused his power as a New York state senator by using his position to obtain a government-funded grant in exchange for political campaign contributions,” Williams added. “By doing so, Benjamin misused his authority and effectively used public funds to support his political campaigns.”