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Brian Benjamin could hurt Gov. Hochul’s campaign: sources

Gov. Kathy Hochul faces a serious dilemma following the revelation that her No. 2 is underneath federal investigation in an alleged marketing campaign finance rip-off, political consultants mentioned Monday.

Veteran Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf mentioned that if embattled Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin have been to be charged, Hochul would have “an actual downside.”

“The Democrats want to sit down him down and get the reality,” he mentioned.

“The mixture of elevated crime all through the state and a lieutenant governor who may very well be indicted may very well be deadly.”

One other Democratic guide, who spoke on situation of anonymity, mentioned Hochul “is in a extremely onerous place proper now.”

“You threat alienating the black group for those who ditch Brian Benjamin earlier than there’s even an allegation of wrongdoing in opposition to him — however on the identical time you don’t understand how a lot this might sprawl.”

Former Gov. David Paterson, who served as chairman of the state Democratic Get together, additionally known as the state of affairs a “trigger for concern.”

“The factor is you simply don’t know. The feds don’t begin individuals except there’s a purpose,” he mentioned.

Lieutenant Governor of New York Brian Benjamin speaks during the funeral service which held at the Islamic Cultural Center of the Bronx for the victims of the Bronx apartment building fire.
Investigators are figuring out if Benjamin was concerned in what federal authorities say was a straw-donor scheme to funnel unlawful contributions to his failed marketing campaign for metropolis comptroller final yr.
Anadolu Company by way of Getty Photos

“Individuals in Harlem I speak to are shocked, very stunned.”

Paterson additionally mentioned, “At this level, Hochul is loyal to him.”

However he famous that circumstances may change shortly, including, “I assume we’ll must see what occurs.”

In the meantime, Benjamin abruptly canceled a gathering with the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus at 10:30 a.m. in Albany to evaluation the standing of the state price range that’s due on Thursday.

State Senator Leroy Comrie speaks at a press conference in Queens.
State Senator Leroy Comrie mentioned he didn’t assume Benjamin canceled a gathering with the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus due to the federal probe.
Dan Herrick

Benjamin unexpectedly backed out at 9:40 a.m., state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) mentioned.

Comrie mentioned he didn’t imagine the transfer was tied to the disclosure of the federal probe.

Benjamin is scheduled to co-host a Wednesday fundraiser in Albany for Assemblywoman Jaime Williams (D-Brooklyn) with Meeting Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx).

However neither he nor Williams returned requests for touch upon Monday and it’s unclear if he nonetheless plans to attend.

On Sunday, the New York Instances reported that Manhattan federal prosecutors issued a number of grand jury subpoenas late final yr that demanded data from Benjamin’s marketing campaign committee, a number of paid staffers and consulting companies.

The probe is reportedly centered on whether or not Benjamin was allegedly concerned in what federal authorities say was a straw-donor scheme to funnel unlawful contributions to his failed marketing campaign for metropolis comptroller final yr.

Harlem landlord and lawyer Gerald Migdol was indicted in late November on prices of conspiracy and wire fraud.

Final week, Benjamin admitted to The Submit that he was interviewed by the feds earlier this yr however mentioned that neither he nor Hochul was a goal of the probe.

On Sunday, he claimed these remarks have been “off the report.”

Hochul and Benjamin, each Democrats, took workplace final yr after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal and so they’re planning to hunt full, four-year phrases in November’s elections.

Hochul’s marketing campaign declined to remark.

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