Lieutenant Governor Benjamin is at the center of the federal election fraud investigation
Ms. Hochul inherited the governorship in August, promising a new era of transparency and ethical rigor in Albany after her predecessor, Andrew M. Cuomo, became New York State’s last top leader in years to come. resign in the midst of a scandal. Choosing Mr. Benjamin, 45, a rising Harlem star, to replace him as lieutenant governor was his first major act in office.
When the investigation was leaked, her opponents moved quickly to try to tie Ms Hochul to Mr Benjamin’s potential legal troubles, anticipating lines of attack that could escalate and force the governor into a stark choice as to whether if he should distance himself from Mr. Benjamin. , which she hoped would help her improve her standing with New York voters, especially in the black community.
“Kathy Hochul’s poor judgment and lack of leadership experience are on full display with her hand-picked running mate,” Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Long Island Democrat challenging Ms. Hochul, said on Saturday.
This is not the first time that Mr. Benjamin’s actions have raised ethical concerns, although prior cases are not known to have come to the attention of the federal government. Last year, The Daily News identified several suspicious expenses from Mr. Benjamin’s Senate campaign account, including $6,700 spent on “voter services” at a Harlem jazz club in 2018, roughly at the same time he organized a wedding celebration on the spot.
Mr Benjamin’s campaign denied at the time that the event was in any way inappropriate, calling it a “supporter appreciation/mobilization” event.
What to know about Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin
Last month, the Albany Times Union uncovered a dozen instances where Mr. Benjamin claimed taxpayer-funded reimbursement for travel to and from Albany at the same time he used a debit card campaign to pay for gasoline. Mr Benjamin’s campaign denied he profited from the practice.
Questions about Mr. Benjamin’s Comptroller’s campaign finance first surfaced in January 2021, when the City identified nearly two dozen questionable contributions worth nearly $6,000 to his campaign which had been collected and delivered by Michael Murphy, a close associate of Mr. Migdol. They included contributions from several men who told the outlet they had never given to the campaign and another from Mr Migdol’s 2-year-old grandson.