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New York Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin Resigns Amid Federal Campaign Finance Scandal

New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned on Tuesday, the same day he was scheduled to appear in federal court for campaign finance fraud.

Benjamin stepped down hours after an unsealed federal indictment alleged he funneled $50,000 in state funds to Harlem real estate investor Gerald Migdol’s charity, Friends of Public School Harlem. In exchange, Migdol gathered illegal contributions for Benjamin’s 2020 state Senate campaign and his unsuccessful 2021 bid for comptroller, according to The New York Times.

Migdol was arrested in November for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and other related charges. Prosecutors said Benjamin first encountered Migdol in 2019, months before he announced his campaign for comptroller.

According to The New York Times, the $50,000 Benjamin procured for Migdol’s charity was a  taxpayer-funded education grant that Migdol never requested. Two weeks later, Migdol allegedly gave Benjamin three checks totaling $25,000 which were made out to Benjamin’s Senate campaign.

Prosecutors said Migdol made the straw donations in other people’s names — including his toddler grandchild — without their permission. Two of the checks Migdol allegedly gave Benjamin were in the name of Migdol’s family members while the third was issued by a shell company he managed. Benjamin reminded Migdol of the $50,000 grant as Migdol filled out the campaign contribution forms in his family’s names. However, prosecutors said the $50,000 was never disbursed, The New York Times reported.

Benjamin surrendered to police after being charged with bribery, fraud, and falsification of records while a state senator. Prosecutors are seeking to have

After losing his bid for comptroller, Governor Kathy Hochul appointed Benjamin as Lieutenant Governor in 2021. Benjamin was previously a state senator for District 30, which covers Harlem, East Harlem, the Upper West Side, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, and Morningside Heights.

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[Featured image: Brian Benjamin/AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File]