The number eight may not turn out to be so lucky for New York City comptroller John Liu.
The New York Times has raised questions about the source and legitimacy about some of the New York mayoral candidate’s campaign contributions.
Liu recently announced that he had raised $1 million in the first six months of the year, much of it from donors who gave $800 each—to reflect the number 8, which is lucky in Chinese culture. The massive haul placed Liu firmly in the top tier of candidates looking to replace Michael Bloomberg next year.
He has some questions to answer before that happens, however. Canvassing by the Times of nearly 100 addresses listed by Liu donors found almost two dozen “irregularities.”
In some cases, people listed as having donated “say they never gave, say a boss or other Liu supporter gave for them, or could not be found altogether.”
The Times also found that Liu has been failing to follow basic campaign finance laws; for example, his campaign is bundling donations, but has failed to disclose the bundlers’ names as required.
In other instances, the Times found that companies from the Chinese business community in Queens had apparently made donations in the names of their employees. In one case, Dynasty Stainless Steel, a city contractor, had 8 employees who gave Liu $800 in January. Each donor card, which by law must be filled out by the individual making the donation, had the same handwriting, suggesting they were filled out by one person. The Times found that at least 4 of those people didn’t work for the company, while two of those four said that they never even gave to Liu.
When questioned by the Times about the irregularities, Liu expressed “bafflement” and vowed to investigate.
“To the extent that there are problems—and I’m not suggesting there are—we cannot accept those contributions, nor do we need them,” he said.
After reviewing his records, Liu acknowledged that some donor cards appeared to have been filled out by people other than the purported donors, and vowed that his campaign wouldn’t tolerate such actions.
Mr. Liu also told the Times that he would return any money donated by questionable sources.
“I’m responsible for my own campaign,” he said. “To the extent that I think something has been done wrong, or people engaged in behavior that broke my rules, we’ll reverse anything.”