December 1, 2022
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New bill will help Hochul remove Benjamin from ballot

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State legislators are poised to pass legislation as early as next week that would allow candidates indicted, charged, or arrested be removed from the ballot, sources told NY1 Friday.

The move comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul is looking for a way to remove her former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin from the Democratic primary ballot after he was indicted and arrested on bribery charges. Previously, the last chance to remove Benjamin from the ballot would have been the state Democratic convention in February.

On behalf of the governor, Manhattan state Sen. Liz Krueger introduced a bill late on Friday listing charges and convictions in state and federal courts as criteria for elected officials to decline a nomination in a primary or general election.

Westchester Assemblymember Amy Paulin introduced a related bill in the Assembly earlier this week. Both bills are expected to pass Monday or Tuesday, sources said.

Both Krueger and Paulin endorsed Hochul's gubernatorial campaign.

Last week, state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs told Spectrum News' "Capital Tonight" the Paulin bill was "good public policy" and said the party was working on finding a suitable replacement, possibly on a third party line.

Some good government groups share his opinion.

But both progressive Democrats and Republican lawmakers expressed their displeasure with the proposed legislation. State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, a candidate for New York's 3rd congressional district, bemoaned that a NY1 reporter saw the bill language before her.

"The Lt. Governor who was never elected to his position resigned and now the Governor who was never elected to her position wants to appoint a new Lt. Governor without an election and then campaign to get them both elected to their positions for the first time," socialist Brooklyn state Sen. Jabrari Brisport tweeted Friday night.

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, the state Republican Party's preferred gubernatorial candidate, said he would "keep a close eye" on legislators who voted for the bill and "take their shady place in the history books."

Republican Assemblymembers Joe Angelino and Doug Smith added the bill, if passed, could incentivize candidates to accuse their opponents of crimes to force them off the ballot.

Despite congressional and state Senate primaries being moved to August due to a court-ordered redrawing of the district maps, statewide races for governor and lieutenant governor are still slated for June 23.

Hochul and Krueger's offices could not be reached for comment Saturday morning.

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