April 12, 2022 Zachary Stieber
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has been charged with allegedly participating in a scheme that saw the Democrat get campaign contributions in exchange for wielding his official authority to get money for a nonprofit.
Benjamin “abused his authority as a New York State senator, engaging in a bribery scheme using public funds for his own corrupt purposes,” according to an indictment that was set to be unsealed on April 12.
Benjamin was a state senator until Sept. 9, 2021, when he was appointed by new New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Hochul had just become governor following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo over sexual misconduct allegations.
According to the charging documents, Benjamin repeatedly met with a person dubbed “CC-1” after they met in or about 2017. The person owned a real estate development business based in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City, and was linked with a nonprofit working with public schools.
At one point, Benjamin funneled $50,000 that he was told to allocate by New York Senate leadership to the nonprofit. He alerted the person in text messages.
About two weeks later, the person gave Benjamin a $10,000 cashier’s check, a $10,000 personal check, and a $5,000 check on behalf of a company the person controlled, according to the court filing.
In addition to bribery, Benjamin is accused of attempting to cover up the scheme by providing false information and committing wire fraud.
Benjamin reportedly surrendered to authorities early Tuesday.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hochul and Benjamin are running for a full term in office on the same ticket.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) called on Benjamin to step down after the arrest.
“The arrest of Governor Hochul’s handpicked lieutenant governor puts on display once again the corrupt cesspool of Albany. Lieutenant Governor Benjamin’s charges of bribery and campaign fraud prove he has put his own interests above those of New York,” she said in a statement.
Nick Langworthy, chairman of the New York GOP, said Hochul’s choice of Benjamin as a running mate shows she “does not possess the judgment nor the moral code to serve as governor.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York planned a noon press conference to discuss the charges.