New York Democratic Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned Tuesday afternoon after being arrested by authorities on campaign finance-related federal charges. New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) accepted his resignation, despite saying she had “utmost confidence” in him just last Thursday.
“I have accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately,” Hochul said in a 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.”
Fox 5 reported that after facing “charges including bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records, Benjamin pleaded not guilty Tuesday at an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court. He was released and bail was set at $250,000.”
Tuesday morning, The Daily Wire also noted that NBC News 4 reported that his arrest came “after reports that Manhattan federal prosecutors and the FBI were investigating whether Benjamin knowingly engaged in a campaign finance fraud scheme. Subpoenas were issued in connection with the investigation, two sources familiar with the subpoenas said at the time.”
During the vetting process for the lieutenant governor appointment in 2021, Benjamin had failed to notify Hochul of a subpoena that he had received from a district attorney in relation to his aide, Gerry Migdol, WSKG reported:
Benjamin was a state senator when the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed him last year about an alleged scheme run by a former campaign aide.
The aide, Gerry Migdol, allegedly solicited phony campaign donations so that Benjamin — who was then running for New York City comptroller — could boost his fundraising numbers to receive public matching funds.
Migdol was arrested and charged with soliciting fake donations.
Benjamin had recently been out of the public eye until last Thursday when he appeared alongside Hochul for the first time since March 22. Benjamin maintained he had done nothing wrong regarding the subpoena. WSKG also noted on Monday:
Benjamin told reporters that he failed to tell Hochul of the subpoena when she was vetting him to be her lieutenant governor last August. He said he participated in a background check by the State Police, and thought that was enough.
“The State Police did a thorough investigation, I participated in that,” Benjamin said. “I followed the process as it was supposed to be followed.”
Benjamin has denied any wrongdoing.
WSKG cited The New York Times, reporting that “federal prosecutors are looking at whether Benjamin steered state grants for his district to financially benefit Migdol.”
According to the indictment, Benjamin’s alleged misdeeds occurred between 2019 and 2021, Fox 5 reported.
Last week, Hochul told reporters that she supported her second-in-command despite the subpoena. Prior to his arrest, New York’s governor said he would stay on the ballot for this year’s gubernatorial election.
Now, it is unclear who will take his place as Hochul’s running mate in the 2022 election.