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Source: Michael M. Santiago / Getty

The once-promising career of New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin has apparently crashed and burned, as he has resigned his position after being arrested by federal authorities.

On Tuesday (April 12th), Benjamin resigned from his post after leaving a federal courthouse in Manhattan. The second-in-command to Governor Kathy Hochul had surrendered to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that morning. Governor Hochul confirmed the news in a statement through her office released in the afternoon. “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,” it read. Benjamin was released on a $250,000 bond after pleading not guilty.

According to the unsealed federal indictment, the former state Senator has been accused of bribery, falsification of records, and honest-services wire fraud among the five counts listed. Benjamin has also been accused of providing false information during his vetting process to become lieutenant governor. The charges are tied to his involvement in a scheme to funnel $50,000 in state funds to Gerald Migdol, a Harlem real estate developer and former fundraiser for the politician in exchange for Migdol sending thousands of dollars in fraudulent contributions using the identities of other people to Benjamin’s 2021 failed campaign for comptroller of New York City. Migdol was arrested on federal charges in November 2021 and then began cooperating with investigators who had already begun their probe into Benjamin at that time. U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams called the case “a simple story of corruption,” in an afternoon press conference. 

For Governor Hochul, the news is akin to a right hook to the ribs with regard to her current campaign to be re-elected as governor. She has served in the role since former Governor Andrew Cuomo was forced to resign in disgrace last year after accusations of sexual harassment mounted against him. While she is able to pick a replacement for lieutenant governor in the coming weeks, Benjamin’s name as her running mate will still be present on the ballot in primary elections this June, which will undoubtedly be bait for her opponents as Hochul’s stance has been to remove corruption in the state.

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