Manhattan federal prosecutors and the FBI are investigating whether New York Lt. Gov . Brian Benjamin knowingly engaged in a campaign finance fraud scheme, and subpoenas have been issued in connection with the investigation, two sources familiar with the subpoenas say.
The investigators are also looking into whether in exchange, Benjamin helped dole out state money to contributors and/or their projects.
Benjamin was appointed lieutenant governor by Gov. Kathy Hochul in 2021, shortly after losing a primary bid for New York City comptroller. He had previously spent four years representing parts of Harlem in the state Senate.
Subpoenas have been issued as part of the investigation to the state Senate secretary and some linked to Benjamin's past campaigns, the sources said Sunday. The lieutenant governor has not been charged.
On Tuesday, when asked if the lieutenant governor had any public appearances scheduled to address the reports of the investigation, Angelene Superable, his spokesperson, said: “Lieutenant Governor Benjamin is working around the clock to ensure the budget is passed and delivered on-time. As such, he does not currently have any scheduled, public appearances this week. If events are added, updates will be made available to the press through the Lieutenant Governor’s public schedule.“
It is unclear if Benjamin had a lawyer to comment on the investigation.
The investigation comes after the FBI arrested Benjamin fundraiser Gerald Migdol in November. He is charged with wire fraud in connection with an alleged campaign fraud scheme linked to past Benjamin fundraising.
The lieutenant governor's office referred questions to its Nov. 19 press statement issued at the time of Migdol's arrest in which it said it was prepared to cooperate.
"Neither Lieutenant Governor Benjamin nor his campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing and they are prepared to fully cooperate with authorities," it said. "As soon as the campaign discovered that these contributions were improperly sourced, they donated them to the Campaign Finance Board, pursuant to guidance obtained from the CFB."
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney and a spokesman for the FBI both declined WNBC requests for comment.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins did not return requests for comment.
A lawyer for Migdol did not return requests for comment.
Details of the investigation were first reported over the weekend by the Daily News, and subsequently the New York Times.