New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has been charged with allegedly participating in a scheme that saw the Democrat get campaign contributions in exchange for wielding his official authority to get money for a nonprofit.
Prosecutors say Benjamin became close with a real estate developer referred to as “CC-1” in court documents. The developer owned a real estate business based in Harlem, New York, and controlled a nonprofit working with public schools in the city.
The business owner provided financial support for events promoted by Benjamin or his Senate office and contributed to Benjamin’s political campaign, according to the indictment. Benjamin, in turn, attended events connected to the person and the nonprofit.
At one point, Benjamin funneled $50,000 that he was told to allocate by New York Senate leadership to the nonprofit.
About two weeks later, the person gave Benjamin a $10,000 cashier’s check, a $10,000 personal check, and a $5,000 check on behalf of a company the person controlled, according to prosecutors.
“Taxpayer money for campaign contributions. Quid pro quo. This for that. That’s bribery, plain and simple,” Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters during a briefing.
In addition, Benjamin is accused of repeatedly lying to cover up the scheme, including by falsifying campaign forms and lying on documents he filled out before becoming lieutenant governor.
Benjamin was arrested on Tuesday morning and was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday afternoon.
Benjamin “abused his authority as a New York State senator, engaging in a bribery scheme using public funds for his own corrupt purposes,” according to an indictment that was set to be unsealed on April 12.
Benjamin was a state senator until Sept. 9, 2021, when he was appointed by new New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Hochul had just become governor following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo over sexual misconduct allegations.