Fraud, Falsification and Federal Arrests…Another NYC Politician Falls from Grace… - The Stylista Group

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Fraud, Falsification and Federal Arrests…Another NYC Politician Falls from Grace…

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Fraud, Falsification and Federal Arrests…Another NYC Politician Falls from Grace…

“Looking for an honest politician is like looking for an ethical burglar

–H.L. Menken 

I’m sure that Henry Louis Mencken had good reason to make the above statement when he did. Unfortunately, decades later, his words still ring through, especially in New York City where the politicians can’t seem to stay out of the headlines due to sexual assault and fraud allegations.

The latest episode in this embarrassing saga revealed itself earlier this month (April 2022) when New York Lieutenant Governor Brian A. Benjamin, the second highest-ranking official in the state, was arrested by federal authorities on charges of fraud and bribery associated with his unsuccessful campaign for State Comptroller in 2021.

Here are the key facts as sources from this Forbes article:

  • Benjamin surrendered to authorities Tuesday and appeared in court Tuesday afternoon, where Reuters reports he pleaded not guilty to five counts of bribery, wire fraud conspiracy and falsification of records.
  • The arrest follows reports the FBI had been investigating whether Benjamin was involved in Harlem real estate investor Gerald Migdol’s scheme to make illegal donations to Benjamin’s campaign by contributing in the name of other people who didn’t authorize the donations, which Migdol was indicted for in November 2021.
  • According to the indictment, Benjamin allegedly conspired as a state senator to funnel state funds to Migdol in exchange for his campaign contributions, giving his organization in Harlem a $50,000 grant in 2019.
  • The indictment alleges Migdol went on to make “numerous” contributions to Benjamin, “many of which were fraudulent”—which Benjamin was aware of—and took place before the $50,000 grant was disbursed to Migdol’s organization.
  • It is also alleged that he told Migdol he would help him get zoning approval for a construction project if he donated $15,000 to a political campaign committee, and then “engaged in a series of lies and deception” to cover up Migdol’s fraudulent donations and his knowledge of them.

Of course, Benjamin resigned immediately following his arrest, and the fall from grace was brutal and swift. However, the million-dollar questions remain:

Why do scenarios like these continue to happen with our politicians? Is there something about the political environment that facilitates this kind of behavior? 

I think it’s safe to say that the entire political arena in the United States needs a serious rebrand. For decades, it has been a network of old boys misbehaving and getting away with way too much, for way too long. As a result, many politicians don’t think of the consequences of their actions, which has caused us to expect them to be dishonest. 

Will this ever change? I guess only time will tell! 

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