After resigning his second-in-command on Tuesday over allegations of federal bribery, New York Governor Kathy Hutchul said he had begun searching for a new lieutenant governor.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin has resigned over allegations of illegal fundraising in one of his previous campaigns. He pleaded not guilty to bribery charges in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday after surrendering to police officers in the morning. He was released on 250,000 bond.
“We’re going through a process right now,” Hochul said in an interview on the local radio station WNYC. “It was clear to both of us that he could not continue the service.”
Benjamin’s resignation comes just months before his name appears as Hochul’s running mate in the Democratic primary ballot in June. Shortly after Andrew Cuomo took over as governor in August, Hochul chose Benjamin as his lieutenant governor.
Hochul is now leading a number of Democratic candidates for governor of New York in 2022, and he is unlikely to be able to remove his name from the ballot because of a feature of the state’s voting system.
“The laws are very complicated,” he added.
According to the complaint, Benjamin was involved in a scheme to receive anti-corruption grants from a real estate developer from at least 2019 to 2021. Prosecutors allege that in exchange for the money, he promised to use his powers as a state senator at the time. Receive a $ 50,000 state grant for a nonprofit managed by the developer.
Asked if press reports about Benjamin’s donors in the Comptroller campaign made him a red flag before he was elected lieutenant governor, he said a background study had cleared him.
“We were told that everything that arose had been resolved.” He added. “I made the best decision with the information I had then.”
He expressed frustration with “how it happened”, but said his resignation provided an opportunity to “reset” his campaign.
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