New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was indicted Tuesday on multiple charges including bribery, honest services wire fraud, and falsification of records in connection with an alleged campaign finance scheme, multiple outlets have reported.
Benjamin, who is second-in-command to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), surrendered to accusations of conspiring to funnel fraudulent donations to a previous campaign, The New York Times reports, per individuals familiar with the matter.
More specifically, the FBI and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York have alleged that, while still a state senator, Benjamin conspired to "direct state funds to a Harlem real estate investor in exchange for orchestrating thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to [his] unsuccessful 2021 campaign for New York City comptroller," the Times writes.
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According to the indictment, the scheme between Benjamin and Gerald Migdol, the real estate investor and developer, ran from 2019 to 2021. Hochul appointed Benjamin to the role of lieutenant governor in September 2021, not long after she vacated the role to replace that of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo stepped down from his post in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
Per their agreement, Migdol would donate to Benjamin's campaign "in exchange for Benjamin's agreement to use his influence as a state senator to get a $50,000 grant of state funds for a nonprofit organization the developer controlled," reports The Associated Press. Migdol was arrested on federal charges in November.
There is currently no indication that Hochul was aware of Benjamin's alleged conduct, the Times notes. The revelations, however, threaten to complicate the upcoming election for the both of them.
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