ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Monday, legislation which would allow a person who is indicted, charged, or arrested to be taken off the ballot is being debated on the floor of the New York State Legislature. Governor Kathy Hochul signed the legislation Monday night.
This comes after former Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin was arrested and resigned because of campaign finance corruption charges.
“I’m very pleased that my partners in government agree that this is an important step to take,” Governor Hochul said last week regarding the legislation.
If a candidate is removed from the ballot, a vacancy committee from that candidate’s party would choose a replacement. In the case of Benjamin, Assemblyman Robert Carroll explained what comes next.
“So this group of 6 people who include Jay Jacobs and Christine Quinn among others, will get to choose who our Lieutenant Governor is and not the voters,” said Carroll. “Technically they will be on the ballot and there are two other folks running, but this process has come and gone and we need to make sure there is some kind of vetting going on.”
While Carroll supports getting Benjamin’s name off the ballot, he is against the committee having the power to add a new name. He is not alone.
“I don’t have a problem with addressing removing a person who doesn’t want to run, but replacing that person in the last minute in the middle of the game is wrong,” stated Assemblyman Ron Kim. “I believe that elite impunity is an existential threat to Democracy, and this is what we are going through. This is what every voter, every person in New York hates about Albany politics.”
Senator Liz Krueger, a Democrat, who sponsored the bill in the Senate said “Current law allows the vacancy to be filled by the party’s committee on vacancy. Whoever is chosen will have to make their case in a three-way primary. In the end, the voters will decide, not the Governor or the Legislature.”
However, Republican Lawmakers are against taking Benjamin’s name off the ballot all together.
“Once again, Democrats in Albany are prioritizing party politics with their latest plan to change the rules for their own political benefit,” Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt stated. “This repeated pattern of political self-dealing is shameful and New Yorkers deserve better.“
The deadline to remove Benjamin’s name off the ballot is May 4th.