Caribbean American New York Metropolis Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has criticized New York Governor Kathy Hochul after she accepted the resignation of her Lieutenant Governor, Caribbean American Brian Benjamin on indictment of bribery and associated offenses.
Damian Williams, one other Caribbean American, who’s the US Legal professional for the Southern District of New York, had introduced on Tuesday that Benjamin, the son of a Guyanese mom and Jamaican father, was charged with bribery, sincere providers wire fraud and conspiracy to commit these offenses.
The costs had been “based on his use of his official authority while a New York state senator to direct a state-funded grant to an organization controlled by a real estate developer (‘CC-1’) in exchange for campaign contributions made and procured by CC-1”.
Benjamin, 45, who resigned shortly after prosecutors unsealed the indictment, pleaded not responsible when he made a brief look on the Federal District Court docket in Decrease Manhattan. He was launched on a US$250,000 bond.
“As Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul denied knowledge or awareness of Andrew Cuomo’s (former New York Governor) wrongdoing,” Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants mentioned.
“Now, she’s repeating the same posture and strategy with her own Lieutenant. Either she’s consistently shamefully out of the loop, or shamefully enabling through her inaction and either way, it’s clear that, unless we elect leadership outside of the old ways of Albany, these patterns of scandal and corruption will keep repeating,” mentioned Williams, a candidate for Governor of New York in June’s Democratic Major.
“Throughout our campaign, we’ve highlighted how the Hochul administration represented Albany’s dysfunctional status quo. She claims to have cleaned up the Capitol. But just this week, with historic hand-outs to Buffalo billionaires, donor-driven scandals, and resignation, it’s never felt more familiar, or clearer that we need drastic change.”
Hochul mentioned in a short assertion late Tuesday that she was accepting 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,” mentioned Hochul, who had appointed Benjamin, a former New York State Senator, representing Harlem, final August, as her second-in-command.
“New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them.”
In saying the costs in opposition to Benjamin, Williams, mentioned the previous New York Lieutenant Governor can also be charged with two counts of falsifying data in reference to the preparation of contribution kinds that falsely reported sure contributions made by CC-1 as being made by different people.
Benjamin can also be charged with making false statements in a questionnaire he submitted whereas looking for to turn out to be Lieutenant Governor.
“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 mentioned, including “by doing so, Benjamin abused his power and effectively used state funds to support his political campaigns.
According to the indictment, during the period 2019-21 Benjamin participated in a scheme to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for the use of his official authority and influence as a New York State senator to obtain a US$50,000 state-funded grant for a non-profit organization.
“Benjamin and others acting on his behalf, or at his direction, then engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up his scheme, including falsifying campaign donor forms, misleading city regulators, and providing false information on vetting forms he completed while seeking to be the Lieutenant Governor of New York State,” the indictment alleges.
Benjamin’s attorneys, in a press release late Tuesday mentioned their consumer is suspending his marketing campaign for lieutenant governor to “focus his energies on explaining in court why his actions were laudable, not criminal”, including that there was “nothing inappropriate” in regards to the US$50,000 grant.
Additionally they mentioned their consumer “looks forward to when this case is finished, so he can rededicate himself to public service.”