John Liu sues over campaign cash in failed mayoral bid

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

John Liu may have lost his bid for mayor months ago, but he is still seeking justice for wrongdoings he believes hindered his campaign.

The former comptroller is suing the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) for withholding $3.8 million in public financing from his mayoral campaign, claiming that the move “crippled” his chances in the Democratic primary.

The lawsuit asserts that the city’s public financing system violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments and that Liu was treated “differently than other candidates who have been suspected of violating campaign finance laws.”

“I am a strong believer in and supporter of the New York City campaign finance system. However, the system has been broken by out-of-control bureaucrats and unaccountable board members,” Liu said in a statement announcing the lawsuit on Wednesday, March 12.

Last August, the CFB denied Liu’s campaign the funds because it said there was “reason to believe that violations of the Act and Board rules have been committed by his campaign.”

Months earlier, a former Liu campaign treasurer was found guilty of attempting to commit fraud, obstructing justice and making false statements. And an ex-fundraiser and contribution bundler for his campaign was convicted on charges of conspiring and attempting to commit fraud.

Though Liu has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection to the case, the Board said the decision to deny matching funds doesn’t require the candidate to personally engage in misconduct.

Liu’s suit also alleges that the appointment of Rose Gil Hearn as chair of the CFB, made shortly before then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg left office, was illegitimate because it was done without consulting the City Council speaker.

“Over 25 years and seven mayoral elections, the Board’s oversight has always been tough, but fair. It protects taxpayers, and ensures campaigns that receive funds are playing by the rules,” said Amy Loprest, CFB executive director, in a statement. “We will not comment further on the litigation until the appropriate time.”



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