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New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigns amid federal fraud charges

New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested and charged in a federal campaign finance fraud investigation (WRGB).
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested and charged in a federal campaign finance fraud investigation (WRGB).
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WHAM) — New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has resigned "effective immediately" according to Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Benjamin was arrested Tuesday morning on campaign finance fraud charges.

Gov. Hochul remained silent for most of the day on Benjamin's arrest until just after 5 p.m. when her office released a statement saying he has resigned.

"I have accepted Brian Benjamin's resignation effective immediately. 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." - Gov. Kathy Hochul

The charges are related to Benjamin’s time and conduct as a state senator over the last several years, his failed attempt at a run for New York City Comptroller, and as he was under consideration to become New York's Lieutenant Governor in 2021.

“This is a simple story of corruption," said Damian Wiliams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Taxpayer money for campaign contributions. Quid pro quo. This for that. That’s bribery plain and simple.”

Federal prosecutors said Benjamin participated “in a scheme to obtain campaign contributions from an unnamed real estate developer in exchange for Benjamin’s agreement to use, and actual use of, his official authority and influence as a New York State senator to obtain a $50,000 grant of state funds for a non-profit” controlled by a real estate company.

Last year, the real estate investor was charged with concealing dozens of illegal contributions to Benjamin's campaign.

READ MORE | Analysis: Future of Lt. Gov. dependent on what does or doesn't turn up in federal probe

In a 23-page sealed indictment made public Tuesday, Benjamin is accused of abusing his authority as an elected lawmaker and “engaging in a bribery scheme using public funds for his own corrupt purposes.”

He's accused of working with the real estate developer and their non-profit organization to get "numerous small donations for his comptroller campaign."

Those smaller donations could be matched by tax dollars thanks to the city's rules for publicly financing political campaigns, the court documents said.

In return, prosecutors claim Benjamin used his position as State Senator to secure a $50,000 taxpayer grant to benefit the community organization that was helping him raise campaign dollars.

At one point, he was even photographed with "an oversized novelty check" for the organization "signed by Benjamin himself."

The court documents suggest he had help from “others acting at his direction and his behalf” to lie and cover up the bribe, including falsifying campaign donor forms.

Additionally, federal prosecutors alleged Benjamin, the second-highest-ranking official in New York, provided false information on vetting forms he submitted while Gov. Kathy Hochul and her team considered him for the Lieutenant Governor position.

Benjamin appeared in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Read Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Indictment:

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