ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday that Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-19) has been selected to serve as New York’s new Lieutenant Governor.
The congressman currently represented New York’s 19th district, which encompasses the Hudson Valley and Catskills.
“I am proud to appoint Antonio Delgado, an outstanding leader and public servant, as Lieutenant Governor of New York, and I look forward to working with him to usher in a new era of fairness, equity, and prosperity for communities across the State,” Gov. Hochul said. “We share a belief in working together to get things done for New Yorkers, and Representative Delgado has an incredible record of doing just that in Congress. With Antonio Delgado by my side serving as Lieutenant Governor, we will both make history – and make a difference.”
“New Yorkers deserve a Lieutenant Governor who’s working day and night to make lives better for working people and their families,” Rep. Delgado said. “Upstate, downstate, doesn’t matter. We all want the same things, security, family, and opportunity. The key is to listen to New Yorkers from all walks of life and then be their voice to get the job done.”
Rep. Delgado will replace former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin who resigned last month amid fraud charges.
The appointment comes a day after Hochul signed a law that will allow Benjamin’s name to be removed from the ballot in the state’s upcoming Democratic primary. It could potentially allow Delgado to run for the lieutenant governor’s job if he wants it permanently.
Delgado is an Upstate New York native who grew up in Schenectady. He currently resides in Rhinebeck with his wife Lacey and their twin 8-year-old sons. He attended Colgate University where he earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. He then received a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Delgado was first elected to Congress in 2018 and is currently the Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit, and he serves on the House Small Business and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.
Benjamin resigned on April 12, after officials detailed his alleged involvement in a campaign donation scheme.
The Democrat is accused in an indictment of participating in a scheme to obtain campaign contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for Benjamin’s agreement to use his influence as a state senator to get a $50,000 grant of state funds for a nonprofit organization the developer controlled.
Facing charges including bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records, he was expected to make an initial appearance Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. Two lawyers representing Benjamin did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
According to officials from the governor’s office:
“In Congress he [Delgado] has led the fight to deliver for his constituents – providing relief for family farms, helping small businesses rebuild and thrive, creating clean energy jobs, increasing access to broadband, and supporting our veterans. In Congress, he’s worked with both parties to get things done for New Yorkers. He’s had 18 bills signed into law by Presidents of both parties. He passed critical reforms including the Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act, and the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act, Direct Support for Communities Act and the Small Business Relief Accessibility Act.”
Benjamin had joined the administration of Gov. Kathy Hochul in September, chosen by her to fill her former job a couple of weeks after she stepped into the governorship following the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo over sexual harassment allegations.
Just over two months later, a real estate developer who steered campaign contributions toward Benjamin’s failed bid for New York City comptroller was indicted. Federal authorities accused Gerald Migdol of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft in illegally giving donations to Benjamin’s campaign.
The indictment said Benjamin, formerly a state senator from Harlem, and others acting at his direction or on his behalf also engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up the scheme that stretched from 2019 to 2021.
They falsified campaign donor forms, misled municipal regulators and provided false information in vetting forms Benjamin submitted while he was being considered to be appointed as lieutenant governor, the indictment said.
Prosecutors had previously not made any accusations against Benjamin, and his campaign said at the time of Migdol’s arrest that it had forfeited any improper donations as soon as they were discovered.
More recently, reports came out saying subpoenas had been issued to Benjamin regarding the financial issues even before Hochul picked him as lieutenant governor.
Republican chairman Nick Langworthy said in a prepared statement that “Hochul chose a dirty politician to serve as her partner in government and running mate.”
“Brian Benjamin’s shady dealings and corruption were well-documented, but Hochul turned a blind eye and put him a heartbeat away from the governorship,” Langworthy said.
Lawmakers took a step Monday to remove Benajmin from the ballot for next month’s primary election.
On Monday, legislation that 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. It was a move that Gov. Hochul said she approved of.
“I’m very pleased that my partners in government agree that this is an important step to take,” said Governor Kathy Hochul.
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.
Republican Lawmakers are against taking Benjamin’s name off the ballot all together.
Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt stated, “ Once again, Democrats in Albany are prioritizing party politics with their latest plan to change the rules for their own political benefit… 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.