New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who chose Brian Benjamin to be her lieutenant governor just one year ago, told the press, “I am accepting Brian Benjamin's resignation effective immediately. As the legal process unfolds, however, it is obvious to us both that he will no longer serve as the Lieutenant Governor. New Yorkers need to have complete confidence in their government, and I'll continue to work each day to fulfill [their] expectations.”
Benjamin's resignation came just hours after he surrendered to federal authorities and was detained. He has been accused in a federal case of campaign-related corruption, one charge of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy as well as two charges of falsifying documents. According to the Associated Press, Benjamin has been accused of taking part in a scheme that sought campaign donations from a development company in exchange for his agreement to leverage his powers as a state senator to obtain a $50,000 grant of state money for an organization that controlled the developer.
The indictment stated that Benjamin and others working under Benjamin's direction, or acting on his behalf, engaged in a series of lies to conceal the plot. They forged campaign donor forms as well as deceived municipal regulators. They also gave false information in the vetting forms Benjamin submitted before he was named lieutenant governor, according to the indictment.
United States Attorney Damian Williams called Benjamin's actions “a quid pro quo.” “This is a simple story of corruption. Taxpayer money for campaign contributions. A quid quo pro. This for that. That's bribery, plain and simple,” Williams declared at the press conference just prior to Benjamin's resignation. Williams added that Benjamin “abused his power… As alleged, Brian Benjamin used his power as a New York state senator to secure a state-funded grant in exchange for contributions to his own political campaigns,” Williams claimed. “By doing so, Benjamin abused his power and effectively used state funds to support his political campaigns.”
Hochul, who was elected governor of New York following the resignation of the former governor, Andrew Cuomo (D), due to a sexual-harassment scandal had said she would be running for an entire term as governor in the coming year with Benjamin as her running mate. Even though Benjamin has resigned, his name is likely to remain on the Democratic primary ballot in June. “Because Mr. Benjamin was designated as the Democratic Party's nominee for lieutenant governor, his name could only be removed at this point if he were to move out of the state, die or seek another office,” The New York Times reported.