Governor Kathy Hochul has promised to make the state government more ethical following the resignation of her scandal-ridden predecessor, but Deputy Governor Brian Benjamin does not make her look so great on this front.
Benjamin has faced a number of accusations in recent months about how he used public money to benefit himself or supporters as a state senator and candidate for the 2021 New York City auditor. He was filed an official indictment by the Southern District of New York on Tuesday morning on charges of bribery, conspiracy of fraud and forgery of records filed with government agencies in respect of contributions to a campaign granted to him by a real estate developer. Political opponents Leverage this to the full advantage ahead of the Democratic primaries in June.
Below is a list of recent ethics controversies in recent years in which Benjamin has been involved, as of April 12th.
Arrested after New York’s Southern District filed an indictment against Benjamin
On Tuesday, a U.S. district court in New York’s Southern District filed a 23-page indictment against Benjamin. The defendant is not guilty For charges. It comes after Benjamin A false claim That he did not provide “false information in test forms” to the New York State Department of General Services during a press conference with Hochul the previous week. The indictment states that he submitted to the office a questionnaire relating to the allegations made against him regarding fundraising on suspicion when he “falsely stated, inter alia, that he had never” acted directly “. [his] Governmental authority (as a legislature or as an executive clerk) over the matter of a donor [he] SDNY claimed that between October 2019 and January 2021, Benjamin met in person with and coordinated $ 25,000 donations for a campaign from a real estate developer known as CC-1 in the official indictment in exchange for transferring $ 50,000 in state grant money to a non-profit organization Powered by CC-1. At a news conference on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated that Benjamin’s actions were “in retrospect … for each other.”
Funding of state and municipal facilities program
Federal investigators have summoned people who worked for the state Senate, the State Department of the New York State Budget and Dormitory in relation to grants supported by Benjamin during his tenure as state senator, the Daily News reported March 25. In the indictment filed. By SDNY, a $ 50,000 state grant was purchased by Benjamin, which he promised to CC-1 and the non-profit organization run by CC-1 in exchange for funding the campaign. The so-called SAM funding has a rich history as a leading source for pork projects for state legislators.
Travel reimbursements as a state senator
An analysis by the Times Union published in February found a dozen cases in which Benjamin sought travel reimbursements of $ 2,100 as a senator in the state while allegedly using a campaign expense account. This includes money spent in Providence, Rhode Island, where Benjamin is a trustee of his Miss Brown University. Benjamin said the money was spent properly, but the state Electoral Commission began an investigation that caused Benjamin to return about $ 3,500 in fuel expenses to his campaign account. This probably eluded Benjamin in late 2021 when he told the state police that examined him to be a deputy governor who had never contacted him from a regulatory body. Benjamin instructed attorneys to review the forms, WSKG reported at the time.
Suspicious contributions to the New York City Comptroller’s campaign for 2021
Prosecutors indicted Gerald Magdalone, whom Benjamin nominated for various community awards, last November for alleged fraud, conspiracy and identity theft in relation to suspicious contributions made to Benjamin’s campaign in 2021 to the City Comptroller, where he came in fourth in the Democratic primaries. That includes money allegedly provided for the campaign by a toddler linked to Migdol, NBC News reported. The municipality has previously reported that at least three men said they had never heard of Benjamin even though the contributions to his campaign were made on their behalf. Benjamin eventually returned at least a dozen different donations.
Turning a wedding reception into a community event
The campaign’s financial records show that Benjamin’s campaign account for New York spent $ 6,693 on a voter services event in 2018, which happened just as Benjamin and his wife were celebrating a wedding at a jazz club in Harlem. “I had an amazing time at the Harlem celebration of our wedding!” Benjamin posted an Instagram post at the time. A campaign spokesman defended the event by comparing it to how elected officials leverage their birthdays into events. The Daily News also reported in March 2021 on $ 1,200 car repairs levied in Virginia days after Benjamin attended a nearby father-in-law funeral. Benjamin eventually returned nearly $ 26,000 to his Senate campaign account in the state for questionable expenses, according to the Times Union.