Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigns hours after arrest in federal corruption investigation

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC/AP) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Tuesday evening announced that she accepted Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin’s resignation.

Hochul said his resignation is effective immediately.

This comes after Benjamin was arrested Tuesday morning in a federal corruption investigation. He has since appeared in Manhattan Federal Court.

"Tax payer money for campaign contributions. Quid pro quo. This for that. That’s bribery plain and simple," said Damien Williams, US Attorney for NY’s Southern District.

The Democrat is accused of participating in a scheme to obtain campaign contributions from a real estate developer identified in the indictment only as "CC-1", and agreeing to use his influence as a state senator to get a $50,000 grant of state funds for a nonprofit organization that the developer controlled in exchange. Prosecutors allege that corrupt bargain was made back in March of 2019.

"And in exchange, Benjamin received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from ‘CC-1’," Williams said. "Those contributions were directed both to Benjamin’s State Senate Campaign Committee, and Benjamin’s New York City Comptroller Campaign."

The FBI also alleges that Benjamin remained aware of some of the fund raising efforts.

Michael Driscoll, Assistant Director In-Charge NY Field Office said, "Accepting numerous small donations on its own is not illegal, but it is illegal to however exploit one’s official authority by allocating state funds as part of a bribe to procure these donations, and the engage in activity to then cover-up that bribe."

Jocelyn Strauber, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigations added, "Public funds that support grants cannot be used as a currency to boost a candidate’s fundraising, and candidates must provide accurate information regarding contributions, and how they are made."

He’s charged with bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records and pleaded not guilty. Click here for more information about the charges he is facing.

Tuesday evening, Hochul released the following statement:

"I have accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately. 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."

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