New York

Former Lt. Gov Brian Benjamin Would Be Removed From Ballot in New NYS Bill

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A bill that would allow Democrats in Albany to remove former New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin from the June primary ballot was introduced in the state Senate late Friday night.

Benjamin resigned in April after he surrendered to authorities to face campaign finance fraud-related charges in connection with a past campaign.

The ballot issue comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul grapples with limited options to remove her indicted running mate from the June 28 Democratic primary ballot.  

Even though Benjamin resigned his position, current law does not allow him to leave the ballot unless he dies, runs for another office or moves outside New York state.

The legislation proposed Friday would allow candidates to be removed from ballots in the event they have "been arrested or charged with one or more misdemeanors or felonies."

Following news of his resignation, Benjamin's attorneys, James D. Gatta and William Harrington issued a statement calling his actions "laudable -- not criminal."

Benjamin, a Democrat, was charged with bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records in an alleged scheme to obtain campaign contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for Benjamin’s agreement to use his influence as a state senator to get a $50,000 grant of state funds for a nonprofit organization the developer controlled.

Facing charges including bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records, Benjamin pleaded not guilty at an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court.

Hochul accepted his resignation "effective immediately," saying, "while the legal process plays out, it is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as Lieutenant Governor. New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them."

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