John Liu defiant and undeterred after Campaign Finance Board denies matching funds

Mayoral candidate and City Comptroller John Liu said he was disappointed in the city's Campaign Finance Board decision to deny matching funds for his campaign.  Credit: Anna Sanders/Metro
Mayoral candidate and City Comptroller John Liu said he was disappointed in the city’s Campaign Finance Board decision to deny matching funds for his campaign.
Credit: Anna Sanders/Metro

A defiant John Liu said he was disappointed but not deterred after the city’s Campaign Finance Board denied his campaign for mayor more than $3.5 million in public matching funds Monday.

“The strength of this campaign has never been the in the money, the strength of this campaign has always been in the people,” Liu said in front of Manhattan Municipal Building.

Liu, who is also City Comptroller, was denied the funds after two former staffers were found guilty in May of attempting to funnel money to the campaign through an illegal fund-raising scheme.

“The evidence suggests that the potential violations are serious and pervasive across the campaign’s fundraising,” Board Chair Joseph Parkes said after the unanimous vote.

In federal court, prosecutors said former Liu campaign treasurer Jenny Hou and fundraiser Olivia Pan relied on “straw donors” to raise money and obtain matching funds from the city. Straw donors are those contributors whose money is reimbursed by others.

At trial, 35 such contributors were identified, but a consultant’s report commissioned by the Board and released Monday suggests the campaign had additional straw donors and and other “potential violations of campaign finance law.”

The Board said their decision relied on testimony during the federal trial but that it was “answering a different question than the jury was asked to consider.”

Outside the Campaign Finance Board meeting that denied mayoral candidate John Liu public matching funds, protestors rally for and against the City Comptroller.  Credit: Anna Sanders
Outside the Campaign Finance Board meeting that denied mayoral candidate John Liu public matching funds, protestors rally for and against the City Comptroller.
Credit: Anna Sanders

Liu said he disputed the Board’s characterization of his campaign.

“The campaign against my campaign has been about suggestions and innuendoes,” Liu said.

His campaign lawyer, Martin Connor, said the Board’s report doesn’t show a “pattern.”

In testimony ahead of the board’s vote, Connor said denying the funds was a “death penalty.” He accused critics of effectively profiling lower-income contributors who made donations in cash.

Connor also said Liu had not done anything wrong himself.

“It’s no secret that there were problems in the Liu campaign in 2011,” Connor told the Board, adding, “Sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s smoke and no fire.”

But the Board was not moved.

“The candidate is ultimately responsible for the campaign’s compliance with the law,” Parkes said.

Candidates participating in the city’s campaign finance system can receive $6 in taxpayer funds for each $175 donated by individual residents, with a maximum $1,050 for each contributor.

As of a mid-July campaign donation filing, Liu has raised $1.5 million.

While Liu said the campaign would appeal the Board’s decision, the earliest date of appeal is just days before the Sept. 10 primary.

Outside the Board meeting, protesters rallied both for and against the decision. At the Municipal Building Monday afternoon, supporters alluded that Liu was unfairly targeted.

“This is a political hit,” said Norman Seabrook, president of the correction’s officer union.

Seabrook and other supporters noted two of the Board members were appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is also running for mayor.

“Isn’t my money good enough to be matched?” Seabrook asked.

Holding two-by-two-foot sign saying the Board is “rigged by the rich,” Cecily McMillan said the decision was “despicable.”

“It’s discrimination. They’re clearly targeting unions,” said McMillan, 24, a member of the Organization of Staff Analysts and a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Liu was confident the decision wouldn’t hurt his chances.

“For the last couple of years I have taken body blow after body blow after body blow,” he said. “But there’s not going to be a knock-down here.”

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Best nature spots for kids in New York…

When it comes to kids and nature, most U.S. parents agree: children should be spending more time outdoors. According to a recent survey by The…

Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.