Even as federal investigators pored over his campaign finance reports and one of his top fundraisers sat in handcuffs, embattled City Comptroller John Liu vowed to stay in the race for mayor.
Liu, widely considered among the top 2013 mayoral contenders, told a crowd of 80 supporters in Brooklyn Wednesday, “I want to run for the highest office in New York City."
“Of course, there will be many challenges, some expected, some unexpected, on the election road.”
Liu described Wednesday's arrest of campaign finance bundler Oliver Pan as one of those “unexpected challenges,” reports The New York Post.
He expressed sorrow that one of his top supporters had been arrested, but said if the allegations proved true, Pan acted wrongly.
Pan is accused of using “straw donors” to secretly funnel contributions exceeding the individual donation limit of $4,950 into Liu’s campaign war chest.
Investigators said Pan accepted a $16,000 campaign contribution from an undercover FBI agent posing as a donor in August. Pan allegedly arranged for 20 straw donors to make $800 donations in their names, and then paid them back with the original money, which is illegal.
Liu made history when he became the first Asian-American elected to citywide office in his successful 2009 campaign for comptroller. But now that campaign, as well as his 2013 campaign, have come under intense scrutiny for numerous inconsistencies in the finance reports
The New York Times reported last month those irregularities include questions about whether some donors even exist.
The allegations against the city’s chief financial officer – as well as the arrest of one of his top fundraisers -- have cast a pall over his political aspirations for mayor.
Liu has denied any wrongdoing and he is working with prominent defense lawyer Paul Shechtman. Shechtman has said Liu wants the truth about questionable campaign fundraising to come out.
Liu recently announced he had raised $1 million in the first six months of the year.