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John Liu files suit vs. city over lost matching funds

By Alex Robinson

John Liu isn’t stepping out of the spotlight anytime soon.

The former city comptroller filed a lawsuit last week against the city Campaign Finance Board for withholding $3.5 million in matching funds from his failed mayoral campaign.

“The system has been broken by out-of-contol bureaucrats and unaccountable board members,” Liu said. “The CFB is an agency in dire need of reform.”

City campaign finance laws say that for every dollar in small contributions candidates raise, they will receive $6 in public funds.

Liu was denied the funds after an investigation into his office’s campaign finance practices resulted in the conviction of his campaign treasurer and a fund-raiser. He was not accused of any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan federal court, claimed the CFB’s decision was without adequate basis and violated Liu’s First Amendment rights.

It challenged the constitutionality of the city’s campaign finance system, contending that it “violates the First and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution by vesting the Campaign Finance Board staff and appointed members with sweeping discretion and virtually no standards to guide the exercise of that discretion.”

Liu came in fourth place in the Democratic mayoral primary, but has continued to maintain a public schedule since he left office in January, fueling rumors he might run for office again.

He put to bed rumors he might run against U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) when he endorsed her for re-election at the beginning of March, but has dodged questions concerning his political future and has not ruled out a run this election cycle.

In addition to his busy public schedule, Liu has been teaching municipal finance part time at Baruch College since January.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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