ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– Governor Kathy Hochul said the federal case against Brian Benjamin was a surprise. He has since resigned after his arrest.
Now, for the second time within a year, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is acting Lieutenant Governor because of scandals in New York State’s government.
“We’ve had a pretty stable run in terms of administration in the state,” explained New York State Constitution Expert and Attorney for Wilder & Linneball, LLP, Christopher Bopst. “And so the notion of the Temporary President of the Senate, Andrea Stewart- Cousins, serving in that capacity where she is acting as Lieutenant Governor discharging the Lieutenant Governor’s functions— it has happened, but never twice in such a short span of time, at least not in any recent history.”
It’s now up to the Governor to pick a new Lieutenant Governor.
Senator Joe Griffo wants changes made to the New York Constitution so that elected officials in the Senate and the Assembly can have a say in the confirmation process.
“What I would like to see are several things,” stated Senator Griffo. “First, when you have a vacancy in the office of Lieutenant Governor, that we follow the federal model of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution— the U.S. Constitution. Which would allow for the governor to appoint whoever their choice is, but that choice would have to be presented before the legislature in joint session and confirmed accordingly. That allows for more checks and balances. It allows for vetting so we don’t run into these types of problems.”
Bopst weighed in on Griffo’s legislation and said it might be helpful in revealing additional information.
“How many people and what it will weed out, in terms of getting people not in that role that have a scandal, tough to say how that would work in actual practice, but it would be an extra step”
Griffo’s bill was first introduced over a decade ago. It is not the only aspect he’d like to change about the state constitution.
“Our constitution is somewhat old in a sense, where it always talks about if the governor is out of state, the Lieutenant Governor becomes Governor. That just doesn’t make a lot of sense in the 21st century. When you look at the modern technology that exists,” explained Griffo.
The Senator thinks this will make a for a more orderly transition process when it comes to the role of Lieutenant Governor.