New York lieutenant governor resigns after arrest in federal probe

Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) stated that Democrat New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned from office hours after his arrest on a federal bribery conspiracy accusation on Tuesday.

Hochul, who appointed Benjamin as her Lt. Governor just over a year ago, said:

Brian Benjamin’s resignation is effective immediately, and I have accepted it. While the legal process unfolds, it is evident to both of us that he will not be able to continue serving as Lieutenant Governor. New Yorkers deserve absolute trust in their government, and I’ll continue working every day to deliver for them.

Benjamin resigned just hours after being detained and charged with one count of federal bribery, one count of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to conduct those crimes, and two counts of fabricating documents by federal investigators.

According to the Associated Press:

Benjamin was charged with taking part in a plan to solicit campaign contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for his willingness to use his influence as a state senator to get a $50,000 state grant for a nonprofit organization owned by the developer.

Benjamin and others acting on his behalf or at his direction, engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to conceal the conspiracy. They lied on campaign donor forms, misled municipal authorities, and gave false information on vetting papers Benjamin submitted while he was being nominated for lieutenant governor.

Benjamin’s activities were described by US Attorney Damian Williams as “a quid pro quo.”

“This is a simple tale of corruption.  Taxpayer money for campaign contributions. A quid quo pro. This for that. That’s bribery, plain and simple,” Williams stated at a press conference shortly before Benjamin resigned.

“As alleged, Brian Benjamin used his power as a New York state senator to gain a state-funded grant in exchange for contributions to his own political campaigns,” Williams stated.  “Benjamin abused his power by doing so, effectively using public funds to support his political campaigns.”

Hochul, who took over as governor of New York after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) resigned amid a sexual harassment controversy, is running for a full term with Benjamin as her running partner this year.