Loading...

New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Fraud Scheme

April 13, 2022 by Reece Nations
New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Fraud Scheme
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin leaves the courthouse in New York, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Benjamin has been arrested in a federal corruption investigation. Authorities said the Democrat was arrested Tuesday on charges including bribery and falsification of records. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin surrendered to authorities on Tuesday after being charged with bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records in a federal corruption investigation. 

Benjamin was accused in the indictment of participating in a campaign finance scheme to receive contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for his influence to obtain $50,000 in state funds for a nonprofit organization controlled by the developer. The charges stem from Benjamin’s time as a state senator from Harlem prior to his current role as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s second-in-command.

Benjamin pleaded not guilty Tuesday during an appearance in a Manhattan federal court, according to the Associated Press. His bail was set at $250,000 and he was released the same day. 

In the indictment, Benjamin was accused of engaging in a series of lies spanning 2019-2021 to conceal the scheme. Harlem-based real estate developer Gerald Migdol was indicted and arrested in November for orchestrating the scheme related to Benjamin’s campaign for New York City comptroller. 

Benjamin, along with others indicted in the case, stands accused of falsifying campaign donor forms, lying to municipal regulators, honest services wire fraud and presenting false information in forms submitted as his appointment to lieutenant governor was pending, according to the indictment. Benjamin’s campaign had said at the time of Migdol’s arrest it forfeited any donations made in violation of the law. 

“I have accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately,” Hochul said in a written statement. “While the legal process plays out, 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 working every day to deliver for them.” 

During a press conference on Monday, Hochul said she was unaware of Benjamin’s subpoenas in the case when she chose him to be New York’s lieutenant governor. Despite his resignation, Benjamin will likely still appear on the 2022 gubernatorial Democratic primary ballot due to state elections law. 

In a prepared statement shared with The Well News, Benjamin’s legal counsel said he would explain in court why his actions in the case were praiseworthy and not criminal in any way. Benjamin’s lawyers said he looks forward to rededicating himself to public service once his name is cleared.

“There has never been a federal case like this in America,” Benjamin’s attorneys James Gatta and William Harrington told The Well News. “Brian supported a $50,000 grant to Friends of Public School Harlem. Every dollar was to buy supplies for public school students in Harlem. There was nothing inappropriate about this grant.”

Republican state lawmakers, however, were quick to denounce Hochul and Benjamin when news of the arrest broke. New York Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy said in a written statement Hochul’s decision to appoint Benjamin to the office was “proof that her tolerance for corruption runs deep in her veins.”

“In her first major decision as governor, Kathy Hochul chose a dirty politician to serve as her partner in government and running mate,” Langworthy said in the statement. “Brian Benjamin’s shady dealings and corruption were well-documented, but Hochul turned a blind eye and put him a heartbeat away from the governorship.”

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com

In The News

Health

Voting

Campaign Finance

June 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
Swalwell Seeks to Use Campaign Funds for Child Care

WASHINGTON — Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., has asked the Federal Election Commission for clarification on its rules regarding the use... Read More

WASHINGTON — Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., has asked the Federal Election Commission for clarification on its rules regarding the use of campaign funds to pay for child care expenses incurred by a candidate. Swalwell, who currently represents California's 15th Congressional District, is seeking reelection this year... Read More

May 16, 2022
by Dan McCue
Sen. Cruz Victorious in Campaign Finance Case

WASHINGTON  —  Sen. Ted Cruz. R-Texas, has prevailed in his Supreme Court challenge to a provision of federal campaign law,... Read More

WASHINGTON  —  Sen. Ted Cruz. R-Texas, has prevailed in his Supreme Court challenge to a provision of federal campaign law, but in dissent at least one justice believes the ruling "can only bring this country's political system into further disrepute." On its face, the underlying case... Read More

May 2, 2022
by Dan McCue
FEC Greenlights Rep’s Campaign Fund Spend on Security Gate

WASHINGTON — A congressman’s use of campaign funds to install a locking steel security gate around his Florida home after... Read More

WASHINGTON — A congressman’s use of campaign funds to install a locking steel security gate around his Florida home after he received a series of death threats would not violate federal campaign finance laws, the Federal Election Commission said last week. As previously reported in The... Read More

Millionaire Candidates Pour Cash into Ohio, Pa. Senate races

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Millionaire candidates and billionaire investors are harnessing their considerable personal wealth to try to win competitive... Read More

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Millionaire candidates and billionaire investors are harnessing their considerable personal wealth to try to win competitive Republican primaries for open U.S. Senate seats in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Mike Gibbons, an Ohio investment banker, leads the pack of self-funders in both states after... Read More

April 20, 2022
by Dan McCue
FEC Asked to Set Value for Campaign Research in Senate Race

WASHINGTON — The campaign committee for Senate Democrats has asked the Federal Election Commission to appraise the value of a... Read More

WASHINGTON — The campaign committee for Senate Democrats has asked the Federal Election Commission to appraise the value of a “research book” it wants to provide to two Democratic candidates to aid in their bids to unseat an incumbent Republican senator. In its letter sent last... Read More

April 15, 2022
by Dan McCue
Judge Says Abrams Campaign Fund Can’t Raise Unlimited Cash

ATLANTA — A federal judge on Thursday ruled that a fundraising committee affiliated with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams can’t... Read More

ATLANTA — A federal judge on Thursday ruled that a fundraising committee affiliated with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams can’t begin raising unlimited campaign contributions. The ruling is based on a state law passed last year that allows Georgia lawmakers to form a new kind of... Read More

News From The Well