Leaked email shows Columbia Mayor Benjamin among early Clinton VP possibilities

Steve Benjamin

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin (Photo provided)

Amid all the hacked emails being leaked by the website WikiLeaks in an effort to derail the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton came this little tidbit Tuesday: Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin made the first cut of Clinton’s possible vice presidential candidate picks.

(Read the email from Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta).

The March 17 email from Podesta to Clinton stated, “Cheryl, Robby, Jake, Huma, Jennifer and I also did a first cut of people to consider for VP. I have organized names in rough food groups.”

Benjamin, the only South Carolinian on the list of 39 names, was included at the top of a grouping of seven prominent black leaders, including Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. transportation secretary and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, and current Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Also making the list was Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates and wife, Melinda, as well as Clinton’s Democratic primary foe, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Other names included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and billionaire businessman and former GOP New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The eventual pick, former Virginia Gov. and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, was on the list as well.

Benjamin was traveling and unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Benjamin has been an avid supporter of Clinton this election cycle and has been on stage with Clinton during her few local campaign stops in Columbia and West Columbia. Benjamin also spoke at this summer’s Democratic National Convention where he sat next to former President Bill Clinton and has appeared in a Clinton campaign ad.

While Benjamin was reportedly gratified by making the VP list, he indicated concern about the leak of the email and countless others by WikiLeaks, which many in the Clinton campaign and the U.S. Intelligence community think is the work of Russian state hackers. Meantime, Podesta has confirmed the FBI is investigating the hacking of his emails as part of a larger ongoing probe of email hacks targeting Clinton and the Democratic Party.