Early in the day, as Ms. Hochul weighed Mr. Benjamin’s future, the Republican leaders in the State Legislature, as well as some Democratic state lawmakers, had called on her to demand his resignation.
“Kathy Hochul and Senate Democrats might tolerate this corruption, but New Yorkers don’t and neither do I,” said Rob Ortt, the Republican leader in the State Senate.
What to Know About Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin
Ms. Hochul’s handling of Mr. Benjamin’s arrest would seem to test the pledge she made upon taking office to increase government accountability in Albany, which has been plagued for years by corruption, arrests and scandals, including, notably, the resignation of her predecessor, Andrew M. Cuomo, amid a series of sexual harassment allegations.
Rumors have swirled about whether Mr. Cuomo might attempt a political comeback by running for his old job as an independent candidate, something that would most likely be a steep climb for him.
As governor, Mr. Cuomo largely confined Ms. Hochul to a ceremonial role. In selecting Mr. Benjamin, Ms. Hochul, a former congresswoman from the Buffalo area, said she intended to entrust him with a broad policy portfolio and treat him as a governing partner — a different relationship than the one she had with Mr. Cuomo.
But Mr. Benjamin seemed somewhat of an imperfect choice.
In January 2021, a report by the local news outlet The City questioned the authenticity of numerous contributions to Mr. Benjamin’s comptroller campaign, prompting the campaign to return nearly two dozen donations.
Two months later, The Daily News reported that Mr. Benjamin had spent nearly $7,000 from his campaign account on “constituent services” to apparently pay for his wedding celebration at a Harlem jazz club in 2018, an expense that his campaign defended at the time.