Democrats often struggle with corruption in the ranks. This time, it’s the New York governor’s office that’s particularly worrisome.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned Tuesday shortly after being arrested and charged in connection with campaign finance fraud, Breitbart reported. The New York Democrat ranks just below Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY), who took over for fellow Democrat and disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I have accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately,” Hochul said in a statement. “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,” she added.
Benjamin had been charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of federal bribery, and a conspiracy charge over both. He will also face two counts of falsifying records in an alleged criminal enterprise that United States Attorney Damian Williams called “a quid pro quo” during a press conference shortly before Benjamin resigned.
“This is a simple story of corruption. Taxpayer money for campaign contributions,” Williams said of the alleged scheme to dole out $50,000 in state grants in exchange for campaign contributions. “A quid quo pro. This for that. That’s bribery, plain and simple,” he added.
“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 continued. “By doing so, Benjamin abused his power and effectively used state funds to support his political campaigns.”
Hochul had just appointed Benjamin to his position less than a year ago and was running with him for a full term as governor after taking over for Cuomo following his resignation amidst sexual misconduct accusations. Benjamin’s name will still appear on the ballot though he will not be eligible for office.
The corruption in the Democratic party is a problem when it comes to the New York governor’s office. Though Benjamin is innocent until proven guilty, his resignation presents a political problem for the party already steeped in corruption.