City Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu continued his no-apologies tour after his former campaign treasurer and a fund-raiser were found guilty on campaign finance fraud charges last week, charging Monday that his rivals’ campaigns would also face issues if they were subjected to similar scrutiny.
“I am confident that if any campaign in New York City or elsewhere was subject to the level of scrutiny that my campaign has been put under–and that Jenny has been put under–we would be far head and shoulders above everybody else,” Mr. Liu said during an interview on NY1 last night.
I get knocked down
For nearly any other candidate, two guilty verdicts in the trial of a trusted treasurer and fund-raiser on campaign finance fraud charges would spell the end of his or her campaign. But this is John Liu.
The city comptroller soldiered on with his campaign on Friday, attending a fund-raiser where he vowed to not only continue his campaign but win the race—and slammed the feds’ case in the process, taunting them to “put up or shut up” yet again.
“I am speechless,” Mr. Liu said from the living room of the opulent Cobble Hill home, where several dozen supporters had gathered to hear from the candidate. “When I walked in, I was speechless. I mean, this has been an amazing experience, an amazing ride. You could never make this stuff up,” he said, insisting he can still win again and again.
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.
Comptroller John Liu’s mayoral campaign took a significant hit this afternoon when a donor, Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, and his young former campaign treasurer Jia “Jenny” Hou, were found guilty in federal court for helping to orchestrate a straw donor scheme on his behalf.
“As the jury found, Jia Hou and Oliver Pan stuck a knife into the heart of New York City’s campaign finance law by violating the prohibition against illegal campaign contributions, all to corruptly advantage the campaign of a candidate for city-wide office,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Cases like this give the people of New York yet another reason to be troubled by the electoral process, and they have a right to demand fair, open, and honest elections untainted by cynical subversion of campaign finance laws.”
Comptroller John Liu officially kicked off his campaign for mayor at a raucous rally on the steps of City Hall attended by several hundred people where he vowed to “be a mayor not of the one percent, but of the 100 percent.” Along with promising to enact populist reforms on housing, education, law enforcement and the business community, Mr. Liu dismissed the ongoing corruption case against two of his associates as a politically motivated “witch hunt” that would not stop him from winning the election.
“When you go after powerful people and rich corporations, they’re going to come after you,” Mr. Liu declared in a fiery speech. “They certainly have made my life challenging, but let me be clear, we are not backing down!”
Law & Order
The federal case against Comptroller John Liu’s fundraising operation has hit a rather intriguing snag.
Oliver Pan, the donor accused of breaking campaign finance laws on Mr. Liu’s behalf, was “involuntarily committed with a mental health condition,” according to Judge Richard Sullivan, who’s overseeing the case. He did not elaborate on the specifics, outside of saying it’s unclear when (or if) he will recover.
Thus, at today’s pre-trial hearing, Mr. Sullivan established a date–this Friday, at noon–that medical professionals treating Mr. Pan need to report on his status. The judge further set April 15th as the “backup” date for the trial to begin, should Mr. Pan not promptly regain his health.
Law & Order
This afternoon, just as comptroller and likely 2013 mayoral candidate John Liu appeared alongside Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference discussing the post-Sandy state of the city’s finances, legal arguments got underway this afternoon in the trial of his supporter Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan and his young campaign treasurer Jia “Jenny” Hou, who are being accused of participating in a conspiracy to direct illegal contributions to Mr. Liu’s war chest. In the courtroom today, Judge Richard Sullivan rejected four pre-trial motions requested by Mr. Pan and Ms. Hou’s attorneys and ordered the trial to begin as scheduled February 4.
At Comptroller John Liu’s rally for support last night, today’s hearing in federal court for his former campaign treasurer, Jenny Hou, loomed large. The lawyer for Ms. Hou, accused of helping orchestrate an illegal straw donor scheme on Mr. Liu’s behalf, directly addressed the charges in a speech from the pulpit.
He began by declaring her life story to be the product of the American Dream, saying, “She’s a young girl who’s 25 years old, who came to this country because her parents sought a life in a country where hard work and opportunity would be available to their children.”
Manhattan Media CEO Tom Allon is calling on his fellow mayoral contender, New York City Comptroller John Liu, to resign in the face of criminal allegations against his campaign fundraising apparatus.
“It saddens me to call on the Comptroller to resign, but I refuse to keep silent when the billions of dollars in pension funds that our public service employees entrust to our city are at stake,” Mr. Allon announced in a statement this morning.
On NY1′s Inside City Hall last night, mayoral contender Bill Thompson was asked whether the man who replaced him in the comptroller’s office, John Liu, can continue to hold onto his job in the face of criminal fundraising charges against his mayoral campaign.
“I think that any elected official, when there are any questions of any types of improprieties that are raised, it creates a bit of a distraction,” he replied. “I still think he can continue to do his job.”
Mr. Thompson emphasized that this distraction is not necessarily unique to Mr. Liu.