The NY lieutenant governor resigned after being arrested during a federal investigation

ALBANY, NY (AP) – New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned on Tuesday, creating a political crisis for Governor Kathy Hochzul following his arrest in a federal corruption investigation. New start in office already shaken by corruption.

Benjamin, a Democrat, was accused of participating in a campaign to obtain campaign contributions from real estate developers in exchange for Benjamin’s contract to use his influence as a state senator to secure $ 50,000 in state funding for a nonprofit. Developer controlled.

Benjamin, who faces charges including bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records, pleaded not guilty at an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday. He was released and released on $ 250,000 bail. The terms of his release should restrict his travel and prevent him from returning to the state capital in Albany.

A few hours later he submitted his resignation letter to Hochsul.

“I immediately accepted the resignation of Brian Benjamin. It is clear to both of us that he will not continue to serve as lieutenant governor while legal proceedings continue. New Yorkers deserve full confidence in their government and I will continue to work every day to provide for them, ”Hochul said in a statement.

Two attorneys representing Benjamin said he was suspending his campaign to focus on defending his actions in court and that the grant in question was used to buy school supplies.

“There is nothing inappropriate in this grant. He will concentrate on explaining in court why his actions are commendable – not a crime. He expects the case to end, so he can re-dedicate himself to public service, ”the statement said.

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Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who resigned on charges of sexually harassing 11 women, was sworn in as governor, followed by state legislator Benjamin, who was sworn in as second-in-command in September.

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Hochul, a Democrat, was the lieutenant governor of Cuomo. He is now running for governor this year. Benjamin was her companion.

Ho Chi Minh’s office and campaign did not respond Tuesday evening to news of his plans for a new lieutenant governor and deputy governor.

Benjamin was the second black lieutenant governor of the state. During his state legislature career, he emphasized criminal justice reform and affordable housing. His district includes most of central Harlem, where he was born and raised by immigrant parents in the Caribbean.

New York law makes it harder to remove Benjamin from the June primary vote: he may leave New York to be disqualified from running for state office, or the state Democrats may allow him to run for office.

Democrat leader Jay Jacobs said the party was exploring its options.

“I’m not ready to outline what we are considering at the moment, let alone say we’ll look at the options quickly,” Jacobs said.

Two months after Benjamin became lieutenant governor, the real estate developer was accused of leading campaign contributions to Benjamin’s failed attempt to become mayor of New York. Federal officials have accused Gerald Mictoll of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and identity theft in making illegal donations to Benjamin’s campaign.

The indictment alleges that Benjamin and others in his movement or others who acted on his behalf were involved in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up the plan, which was extended from 2019 to 2021.

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They falsified campaign donor forms, misled municipal controllers and provided false information on test forms submitted when it was thought Benjamin would be appointed lieutenant governor, the indictment said.

Prosecutors have not previously charged Benjamin, and his campaign at the time of Mikdol’s arrest claimed that he had lost any improper donations as soon as they were discovered.

Most recently, it was reported that Benjamin had been given saponies over financial issues, even before Hochul was elected lieutenant governor.

Before Benjamin’s arrest and resignation, Hochul defended him and said last week that he had “too much faith” in him. He said he did not know his partner was gone when he tapped Benjamin as his No. 2 last week.

Top Republicans and a dozen of Benjamin’s fellow Democrats called for his resignation on Tuesday afternoon.

Democratic Senate President Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​is acting lieutenant governor – who served before Benjamin’s appointment when he became governor of Ho Chi Minh last year.

The two candidates for governor are Thomas Suzy, a U.S. Democrat, and a Republican. Lee Zeldin, despite long-standing concerns about Benjamin’s possible campaign finances, exploded Ho Chi Minh’s verdict for choosing him first.

Immigration lawyer Ana Maria Archila, a Democrat running for lieutenant governor alongside New York City attorney general and governor candidate Jumane Williams, said Albany politicians have long traded “money concessions.”

“Today is a dark day, and Albany should see all New Yorkers in its worst condition,” Archila said.

This scandal is recent in the long history of lawmakers and other Albany leaders, who have been embroiled in accusations that they made a mistake.

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Cuomo’s resignation as governor was not only amid allegations of sexual harassment, but his administration misrepresented the number of New Yorkers who have died in nursing homes since COVID-19.

The then government in 2008. Elliott Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution trial.

Shelton Silver, the former Speaker of the New York Legislature and one of the most powerful figures in the state government, resigned in 2015 after being arrested on charges of federal corruption.

Dean Skellos, the former Republican state Senate majority leader, shared power with Silver for a time and was convicted of extortion, wire fraud and bribery.

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Hayes reported from New York. Associated Press Writers Deepti Hazela, Michelle L. Price and Larry Newmester contributed from New York and Michael Hill from Albany.

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