John Liu hits back at Avella over fines

By Alex Robinson

John Liu’s campaign slammed state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) last week for what it said was an illegal use of taxpayer money to attack the former comptroller in their escalating primary battle.

At issue was Avella’s announcement he was considering legislation which would give the city and state more power to go after candidates who violate election law.

Avella had criticized Liu for failing to pay more than $500,000 in fines to the city for illegal campaign posters from his 2009 bid for city comptroller. The senator called on the city to put a lien on any campaigns associated with Liu until the fines were paid.

“It’s deeply disappointing that Sen. Avella would use his governmental office and taxpayer-funded staff to launch a political attack,” Liu said. “This flagrant misuse of government resources should be fully investigated by the appropriate authorities to expose any and all ethical violations. Sen. Avella should release all internal official and campaign correspondence relating to this matter so the people of our district can see how he is spending their hard-earned tax dollars for his own politically motivated reasons.”

Avella’s campaign hit back at Liu, saying the allegations were ridiculous.

“Deadbeat John Liu is desperately trying to divert the public’s attention from the fact that he continues to owe over $500,000 to the taxpayers of this city,” Avella’s campaign spokesman Jason Elan said. “JCOPE shouldn’t waste their valuable time looking into these baseless accusations but rather investigate how John Liu has managed to avoid payment of these astronomical fines for nearly five years. Sen. Avella’s proposed good government bill directly hurts John Liu’s credibility and floundering campaign.”

The two are grappling for Senate District 11, which includes Bayside, Whitestone, College Point, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, Hollis Hills and part of Flushing.

Avella recently bolted to the Independent Democratic Conference, which controls the Senate with Republicans, and provoked a primary from mainline Democrats.

But the two-term senator has racked up significant union support and an endorsement from Mayor Bill de Blasio after his IDC colleagues announced a new power-sharing agreement with Democrats in late June.

Liu was courted by the Queens Democratic Party to unseat Avella months ago and has since put together a broad coalition of county support.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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