The Lt. Governor of New York, Brian Benjamin, just surrendered to police over campaign finance fraud charges stemming from a past campaign, as NBC reported.
According to that outlet, the Lt. Governor should appear in a federal court in Manhattan later today, (Tuesday the 12th of April) in connection with the matter.
Governor Hochul’s office has not yet commented on the matter despite Hochul having appointed Benjamin to the position in 2021 after he lost a NYC comptroller primary. Before this role, he was a New York State Senator.
Describing the allegations against Benjamin in a recent article, NBC New York reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan and FBI agents are looking into whether Benjamin knowingly participated in a campaign finance fraud scheme, one that a real estate “mogul” with close ties to him was already arrested for, and also whether Benjamin doled out New York state money to contributors to his 2021 comptroller campaign.
Despite Benjamin having surrendered himself to the authorities, his office is still pushing the line that he hasn’t done anything wrong, saying:
“Neither Lieutenant Governor Benjamin nor his campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing and they are prepared to fully cooperate with authorities. As soon as the campaign discovered that these contributions were improperly sourced, they donated them to the Campaign Finance Board, pursuant to guidance obtained from the CFB.”
Asked before his surrender if he planned to address the accusations, Benjamin’s office said:
“Lieutenant Governor Benjamin is working around the clock to ensure the budget is passed and delivered on-time. As such, he does not currently have any scheduled, public appearances this week. If events are added, updates will be made available to the press through the Lieutenant Governor’s public schedule.“
Apparently he was able to stop working around the clock long enough to turn himself in. Perhaps the budget was easier to deal with than he thought.
Benjamin turning himself in is just the latest step in a scandal stemming from his attempted comptroller run in 2021, the one where he lost in the primary. Back in November, NBC reported that:
A New York City real estate mogul with close ties to New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has been indicted for fraud and identity theft, part of an alleged scheme to conceal the source of contributions to Benjamin’s failed campaign for city office.
Manhattan federal prosecutors allege Gerald Migdol schemed for more than a year on behalf of “the campaign of a candidate for New York City Comptroller,” ordering the collection of allegedly fraudulent contributions so the candidate could collect public matching funds.
Among other things, the government alleges that Migdol personally reimbursed purported donors, and that he directed others to submit bundled “donations” to the campaign from people who had never actually donated. The indictment quotes alleged messages from Migdol instructing other to how to make donations, promising repayment when they said they didn’t have the money.
So, the current charges against Benjamin stem from that scheme Migdol engaged in, with the feds wanting to find out whether Benjamin was a knowing participant in the scheme Migdol was running during Benjamin’s comptroller campaign.