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Kathy Hochul wants the law to remove Brian Benjamin from the ballot

Gov. Kathy Hochul is calling on state legislators to help her embattled former Lt. gov. Remove Brian Benjamin from the Democratic ballot in the upcoming June 28 Democratic primary.

Benjamin – accused in a pay-to-play bribery scandal – resigned from office in disgrace, but his name will continue to appear on the primary ballot due to election laws. However, the governor believes Albany can pass legislation to fix the ticket.

“There is a need for a legal solution,” Hochul told reporters in the state capital on Tuesday.

“And I want lawmakers to do just that and pass legislation that fixes a really weird part of our law that doesn’t allow for the removal of someone who is indicted.”

In the party primary, the lieutenant governor runs separately from the governor. However, Benjamin’s name on the ballot is an awkward albatross around the governor’s neck.

Hochul said she was in talks with lawmakers about passing legislation that would allow the Democratic Party to remove Benjamin’s name and possibly name a replacement.

Brian Benjamin, former Lieutenant Governor of New York
The former Lt. gov. Brian Benjamin is accused of bribery.
Alex Tobacco

“So let’s talk about what sense it makes right now to have a law changed. I urge lawmakers to do just that,” Hochul said.

She emphasized that time is of the essence. According to the election committee, the vote for state offices must be completed by May 4th.

The Benjamin scandal is the biggest mess of Hochul’s short governorship, having replaced disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned last August under threat of impeachment amid a sexual misconduct scandal.

NY Gov. Kathy Hochul
The bribery scandal of former Lt. gov. Benjamin is Gov’s biggest embarrassment yet. Hochul in office.
J. Messerschmidt/NY Post

Her selection of Benjamin, a former state senator from Harlem, as lieutenant governor was one of her early and most important decisions — and critics have been quick to question her judgment after Benjamin’s tenure exploded in a corruption scandal.

In response to the criticism, the governor insisted that the information she knew about Benjamin during the review process would not disqualify him from the lieutenant governor’s nomination.

Shortly after Hochul spoke, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​(D-Yonkers) said confirmed that the governor called them Monday night asking for a law change to allow Benjamin’s name to be removed from the general election.

Stewart-Cousins ​​said she doesn’t like “changing the rules in the middle of a process and certainly not in the middle of an election” – but didn’t rule out Hochul’s request.

“We’ll continue the conversation,” Stewart-Cousins ​​said. “She put it on the table because it relates to a conversation I had with my conference. … We’ll have the conversation. Lets see what happens.”

The office of congregation speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) had no immediate comment.

Bills have been introduced in the Assembly by Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) and Jonathan Jacobson (D-Newburgh) to remove Benjamin from the vote, but none in the Senate yet.

Republicans said they would attack the Democratic lawmakers during the fall election if they pass legislation to save Hochul by removing Benjamin from the ballot.

“If Kathy Hochul’s co-conspirators in the legislature help her avoid responsibility for picking a crook for lieutenant governor, they are directly responsible for supporting and encouraging corruption in Albany and we will make sure every voter knows that.” said Republican party leader Nick Langworthy.

One of Hochul’s main Democratic rivals, Long Island Assemblyman Tom Suozzi, also said the Democrat-led Legislature should not reward Hochul for poor judgment and accused her of “carrying her water.”

“Why would the Senate and Assembly sign another secret backroom deal with Kathy Hochul to replace her indicted former lieutenant governor?” Suozzi asked in a statement.

“Members of the Senate and Assembly are already paying a political price for their deal with Buffalo Bills, their refusal to address crime and the LG saga. How long are you willing to carry Kathy Hochul’s water? She made this mess, she has to clean it up herself.”

The House Ethics Committee recently expanded an investigation into whether Suozzi, as a sitting member of Congress, properly disclosed stock transactions.

Benjamin resigned on April 12, just hours after he was indicted by federal prosecutors in Manhattan on five corruption charges alleging he attempted to trade a state scholarship for campaign contributions when he was a state senator and for the City Audit Office ran.

There are two other Democratic candidates running for lieutenant governor: Diana Reyna, former Brooklyn City Councilwoman, Suozzi’s running mate; and immigration activist Ana Maria Archila, running mate for city public attorney Jumaane Williams.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/26/kathy-hochul-wants-law-to-remove-brian-benjamin-from-ballot/ Kathy Hochul wants the law to remove Brian Benjamin from the ballot

JACLYN DIAZ

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