Comptroller John Liu may be facing the scrutiny that comes with two associates being convicted of an attempted fraud scheme on his behalf, but his mayoral campaign is still plugging along. Indeed, Mr. Liu will be endorsed by Brooklyn Assemblyman Peter Abbate tomorrow morning, according to a Democratic operative with knowledge of the event.
Comptroller John Liu said he’s saddened by the guilty verdict this afternoon against two of his former associates–a one-time campaign treasurer for his mayoral bid and a former donor–but he insisted it’s not going to slow him down.
“I am deeply saddened by the verdict. I continue to believe in Jenny being a good person and exceptional individual,” he said in a statement released by his campaign, referring to Jia “Jenny” Hou, his former aide.
The Press Box
“I’m not particularly fond of getting the shit kicked out of me by the media all the time,” John Liu told The Observer last week. “But that doesn’t alter the reality.”
The reality, the city’s comptroller said, is not necessarily found in the headlines every morning. For example, he disputes a New York Daily News report that “debunked” his claims of childhood sweatshop work. The New York Post said he “needs to just go away.” And Mr. Liu feels it’s “plainly obvious” that federal prosecutors are driving negative New York Times coverage as they investigate his mayoral campaign for fund-raising improprieties.
“You’re not supposed to fuck with the Fourth Estate,” Mr. Liu explained while sitting on a bench after a Harlem event, displaying two of his signature traits in one quick sentence—a penchant for direct talk and an increased interest in how the media portrays him.
Across the breadth of policy issues, the Democratic candidates for mayor this year tend to share similar viewpoints. However, there are some notable exceptions, and at a debate sponsored by The New York Observer and 92Y, another one was revealed last night: their mayoral role models.
The first two candidates to speak, former Comptroller Bill Thompson and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, couldn’t choose just one mayor. Rather, the pair saw themselves as pulling from the best attributes from four and cited Ed Koch’s spirit, David Dinkins’s compassion, Rudy Giuliani’s toughness and Michael Bloomberg’s vision.
“I’ve been asked that question before and I’ve made sure that I haven’t alienated former mayors,” Mr. Thompson joked.
Comptroller John Liu will officially announce his campaign for mayor on the steps of City Hall this afternoon as part of a more than 14 hour tour across all five boroughs. His first stop was the Bedford Central Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, where he reflected on his tenure in the comptroller’s office.
“It’s been a little more than three years now that I’ve had the privilege of serving as city comptroller. Not an easy period of time to be the chief financial officer of anything, let alone our great city of New York,” Mr. Liu said when he took the podium during the church’s 8 a.m. service. “It has been my prime priority to reduce wasteful spending at city agencies. To make sure that they’re not wasting too much money on these pet projects, particularly those that involve those outside consultants and keep the money where it really belongs: services for the people of New York City.”
Comptroller John Liu is the only one of the major Democratic mayoral contender whose campaign hasn’t officially released his fundraising numbers from the latest filing period to the press. However, Mr. Liu’s numbers are actually worth boasting about. Though the raw amount he’s raised doesn’t compare to his rivals, when you factor in publicly-matched contributions, Mr. Liu appears to be sitting on the second-highest pile of campaign cash behind only Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has already raised the maximum amount allowed for the primary
“We’re just about there in maxing out at the spending limit,” a spokesperson for Mr. Liu said after Politicker reached out. “In fact, we’ve emphasized small amounts and from a broad base of NYC donors, the vast majority of whom are first-time donors to any campaign.”
America may run on Dunkin’, but Comptroller Tom DiNapoli would like the donut chain to leave a smaller footprint.
Mr. DiNapoli is able to put pressure on corporations due to his role managing the state pension fund. According to his office, the fund has about $1.9 million in shares of Dunkin’ Donuts among its investments and Mr. DiNapoli issued a shareholder resolution asking the coffee and pastry company to address the environmental concerns of palm oil production.
Law & Order
On Monday, three individuals were arrested and accused of stealing more than $50,000 from a lunch program for senior citizens, including Veda Jamoona, a staffer in Comptroller John Liu’s government office. In the wake of her arrest, a spokesperson for Mr. Liu said Ms. Jamoona has been suspended without pay “until further notice.”
“We have been informed by the NYC Dept. of Investigation that Ms. Veda Jamoona was arrested yesterday morning for conduct unrelated to her employment at the Comptroller’s office,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Ms. Jamoona has been suspended without pay until further notice. Veda Jamoona has been employed since Jan. 17, 2012 as a public affairs associate at the annual salary of $55,000.”
While the big labor unions and elected officials have mostly stayed mum on the mayoral race so far, the same can’t be said for the citywide race for comptroller. Accordingly, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, currently unopposed, continues to amass endorsement after endorsement in his bid, a long list of which you can view below. The latest arrived today in the form of the influential 1199 SEIU.
“When it comes to fighting to make sure hard working New Yorkers have good paying jobs and access to quality healthcare, Scott has been in the corner of working families throughout his career,” George Gresham, the union’s president, said in a statement. “It is why we enthusiastically support him as the next New York City Comptroller.”
While all-but-officially announced mayoral candidate John Liu aggressively slammed Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City speech as revisionist history, one of Mr. Liu’s likely rivals in the mayor’s race, Bill Thompson, took a more moderate approach. Mr. Thompson released a statement earlier this afternoon that praised parts of the speech while critiquing others.
“I commend the mayor’s willingness to put forth specific ideas for our city’s future, including his Styrofoam initiative, and urge fellow leaders to engage in a vigorous and respectful debate on this important matter,” Mr. Thomspon began.