In a sudden development that rocked New York politics, Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin (D-N.Y.) was arrested on Tuesday on charges of funneling illegal contributions to his prior bid for Comptroller of New York City.
As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the charges were formally announced by federal authorities at noon on Tuesday. He had previously been brought in for questioning last month on the emerging details of the scandal, which was allegedly orchestrated by Gerald Migdol, a Harlem lawyer and longtime donor to the Democratic Party. The charges claim that Migdol made numerous “straw contributions” to Benjamin’s 2021 bid so that he could qualify for taxpayer-funded contributions by the Board of Elections.
Benjamin was appointed as the next lieutenant governor in September of 2021, less than one month after Governor Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) ascended to the office following the resignation of her disgraced predecessor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.). There had previously been speculation that Hochul would not keep Benjamin as her running mate for the 2022 elections due to Benjamin’s support for the far-left “defund the police” rhetoric, as well as other soft-on-crime stances, in the midst of a spike in violent crime in New York City.
“The combination of increased crime throughout the state and a lieutenant governor who could be indicted could be lethal,” Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said last month, prior to Benjamin’s arrest.
Hochul is facing primary challenges from within her own party by Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D-N.Y.). Seeking the Republican nomination are Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino (R-N.Y.), who was the gubernatorial nominee in 2014, and Andrew Giuliani (R-N.Y.), son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Hochul has maintained a strong polling lead in both the primary and general elections, although the latest scandal in her office could harm her public image going into the election that she would clean up an office already rocked by the numerous scandals of her predecessor.