Why Governor Hochul should fire No. 2 man Brian Benjamin
Gov. Kathy Hochul has a running mate problem: Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin played fast and loose with the state Senate’s per diem and travel reimbursement system as well as the state’s campaign finance regulations. ‘State.
Times Union investigators uncovered 12 instances where the then-state senator used his campaign credit card on trips he was on. also obtained taxpayer-funded reimbursements for his expenses. His per diem records and campaign documents confirm the double levy.
State law states that submitting false refund coupons “may be a felony or misdemeanor.” (The Senate forms do not carry this explicit warning, but the Assembly travel voucher clearly says so.)
This meant criminal cases against other legislators.
- Assemblyman Roger Green (D-B’klyn) resigned from office in 2004 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges involving claims for bogus travel expenses and reimbursement for trips between Brooklyn and Albany that he didn’t pay.
Raising the salaries of state legislators to more than $100,000 was supposed to end this kind of abuse. Ha!
Even if Benjamin pleads incompetence, rather than arrogance, in submitting his false statements, he is at least a liar: while the Hochul team screened him for his current position, he stated on a verification form state police history that he had never been contacted by a “regulatory body” about a possible campaign finance violation or investigation – when the State Board of Elections and the Board of City campaign fundraisers were investigating his campaigns.
Benjamin only refunded his campaign after media inquiries revealed this.
If Hochul decides to keep Benjamin as her No. 2, including on this year’s ballot, she better explain why his ethical lapses don’t matter.