Hochul's gubernatorial campaign suddenly has questions due to federal probe of Lt. Gov. Benjamin

Hochul’s gubernatorial campaign suddenly has questions due to federal probe of Lt. Gov. Benjamin

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NEW YORK — With the Democratic gubernatorial primary just three months away, Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has become the focus of a federal probe into campaign donations made to his 2021 campaign for city comptroller.

According to CBS2’s Marcia Kramer, the probe has already led to the indictment of a Harlem real estate developer who is a long-time supporter.

Confetti fell and spirits were riding high last month when New York Democrats picked their nominees for governor and lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul and Benjamin.

Now there is concern about the ticket amid reports that the feds are investigating Benjamin’s role, if any, in efforts by a long-time supporter, investor Gerald Migdol, to funnel illegal contributions to Benjamin’s campaign for city comptroller last year.

Migdol has been indicted on charges of concealing and misrepresenting dozens of illegal contributions to Benjamin, and now the feds are reportedly trying to determine what role, if any, Benjamin played in efforts to raise money.

Benjamin has not been accused of any wrongdoing and a source close to the lieutenant governor insists he’s not a target of the probe, but political consultant Hank Sheinkopf says Democrats have some tough decisions to make and need to talk turkey with Benjamin.

“Tell us the truth, Brian Benjamin, and if you can’t you’ve gotta go because we have a lot at stake. State Senate seats on Long Island, state Senate seats in other parts of the state, and the governorship,” Sheinkopf said.

All this comes as a new Siena poll has Hochul handily beating her declared Democratic primary opponents, Tom Suozzi and Jumaane Williams. Hochul has 52 percent, Williams has 12 and Suozzi has 11.

But it’s a whole different story if former Gov. Andrew Cuomo runs. It’s Hochul at 38 percent, Cuomo at 30, Suozzi has 12 and Williams has 7.

The problems become greater since Cuomo is far more popular in the minority communities, communities Benjamin was expected to bring into the tent.

Cuomo leads Hochul 50 to 23 among African-American voters, and 36 to 33 among Latinos.

The big question is whether Hochul seeks to replace Benjamin as her running mate. The governor’s spokesperson refused to comment.

Benjamin’s spokesperson wouldn’t say whether he has discussed the race with his boss.

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