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NYS Lt. gov. Brian Benjamin questioned about ‘shady campaign donor’

Lt. gov. Brian Benjamin was questioned by the Feds as part of a reported investigation into whether he was allegedly involved in a scheme to illegally funnel donations for his failed City Examiner campaign last year.

Benjamin admitted to The Post that he was interviewed earlier this year in connection with November’s conspiracy and wire fraud charges against Harlem landlord and attorney Gerald Migdol, who is accused of making illegal “straw” donations to Benjamin’s campaign to have.

Benjamin, a former Harlem state senator and supporter of the Defund the Police movement, was vague about the details of his meeting with federal law enforcement officials, saying that neither he nor Hochul is under investigation.

Benjamin, who made the comments last week, claimed on Sunday that they were “unofficial.”

Benjamin, referred to as “Candidate-1” in Migdol’s indictment, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

But according to a report Sunday, Manhattan prosecutors issued multiple grand jury subpoenas late last year over fundraising records related to Migdol and several associates of Benjamin’s campaign committee, several paid associates and consulting firms.

According to the New York Times, which cited three unidentified sources with direct knowledge of the matter, the investigation is trying to determine how involved Benjamin was in his campaign’s fundraising.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, accompanied by Lt. gov. Brian Benjamin, left, speaks before the signing "Less is more" Law.
Gov. Kathy Hochul chose Benjamin as her lieutenant governor after Cuomo resigned.
AP/Richard Drew

A source close to Benjamin’s campaign for the Comptroller confirmed to the Post that the committee received federal subpoenas last fall.

More recently, prosecutors also began searching the state Senate for records of discretionary expenditures he had made to his former district, the Times said, citing two officials who were briefed on the subpoena.

Benjamin served in the Senate from 2017 until September, when incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul named him her No. 2 after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned over a sexual harassment scandal.

Hochul and Benjamin, both Democrats, are seeking a four-year term in November’s election.

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Benjamin was questioned earlier this year in connection with the conspiracy and wire fraud charges against Harlem landlord and attorney Gerald Migdol, who is accused of making “straw” donations to Benjamin’s campaign.
Stephen Yang

According to his arraignment in Manhattan federal court, Migdol allegedly funneled more than $2,000 in small donations to Benjamin’s tax advisor campaign so the candidate could qualify for taxpayer-funded matching funds from the city’s Election Committee.

He also personally donated $400 to Benjamin, according to records of the city’s campaign funding.

Migdol has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which carry more than 40 years in prison, and is off on $250,000 bail.

The longtime Democratic donor — who hosted a US Senate fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in 2000 and supported her 2016 presidential campaign — was scheduled to appear in court for a status conference last month.

But it was postponed to April 15 at the request of prosecutors “to give the parties additional time to discuss the case,” court filings show.

During a pre-trial conference in December, a prosecutor twice said both sides were “working toward an agreement,” without elaborating.

NY Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin speaks at the press conference.
Migdol reportedly directed more than $2,000 in small donations to Benjamin’s comptroller’s campaign.
Stephen Yang

It’s unclear if Migdol is cooperating against Benjamin, but at least two of the subpoenas apparently linked to the investigation against him were issued shortly after Migdol’s arrest, the Times said, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

The Benjamin investigation is also reportedly being conducted by the same assistant US attorneys who are prosecuting Migdol.

Veteran campaign attorney Jerry Goldfeder, who is part of Migdol’s defense team and is generally very chatty with reporters, declined to say what type of deal was negotiated.

“I will not discuss my clients with you,” Goldfeder said repeatedly.

In January 2021, The City website reported that Benjamin had received a $250 donation from Migdol’s then-two-year-old grandson, who was listed as a “student” in campaign finance documents.

Benjamin vowed to return the toddler’s donation and those of 22 others, including Migdol’s wife, after The City reported they came from an intermediary, Michael “Mic” Murphy.

Murphy, who sang ’80s synth-pop hit “Don’t Disturb This Groove,” is the treasurer of Migdol’s nonprofit, Friends of Public School Harlem, according to a recent tax return.

He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Ben Feuerherd

https://nypost.com/2022/03/28/nys-lt-gov-brian-benjamin-questioned-about-shady-campaign-donor/ NYS Lt. gov. Brian Benjamin questioned about ‘shady campaign donor’

JACLYN DIAZ

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