The New York Times reported Wednesday that John Liu, who is considered a top-tier contender for mayor in 2013, has numerous inconsistencies in his campaign finance reports, including questions about whether some donors even exist.
Liu, the city's comptroller, recently announced he had raised $1 million in the first six months of the year.
The Times found about 24 "irregularities" in his campaign filing, however. Those included people who could not be found and people who said they never donated to Liu. Others said a boss or another Liu supporter donated in their name.
"To the extent that there are any issues with these conbtirbutions, my campaign is conducting a full review and I’ll simply return them," Liu told NBC New York Wednesday. "There is no desire on my part, nor is there any need for me, to accept any contributions that are not completely above board.”
Liu also suggested that donors were intimidated by reporters' questions, and might have denied giving money even when they actually did. The Times said many of its interviews were in Mandarin.
"If someone was asking me the question, I'd say 'No, no, no, no -- I don't know who you are," Liu told the Times.
Among the examples cited by the Times is Dynasty Stainless Steel in Queens. Records show Dynasty's president, Ming Kun Lee, gave $800, along with eight people listed as workers there.
The Times said four of the eight people do not work for the company, and two of those four said they never donated to Liu.
Cheng Tsung Tung, listed as a project manager for Dynasty, is shown as donating $800. But Tung told the Times he did not donate to Liu and does not work for Dynasty.
According to the Times, the handwriting on the Dynasty donor cards is all the same. Donors are supposed to fill out their own cards.
Lee did not comment to the Times.
Liu's finance reports also show 10 donors, who each gave $800, listed as workers for Kang Kang, a construction company. At three of the home addresses listed by the workers, there was no one there by that name, the Times said.
All those donor cards appear to be filled out by the same person, the newspaper said.
Another company, W&L Construction, shows 18 employees as Liu donors. Zhong Qun Tan is listed as a carpenter, but told the Times she worked at a garment factory and had not heard of W&L.
Five of the company's employees listed the residence of owner Meng Jia Wang as their home address. Wang first told the Times that he let the workers use his address because their English wasn't good. A secretary at W&L then told the Times that the workers had all filled out the paperwork together because it was easier that way.
“I think for the most part people are honorable," Liu told NBC New York. "They genuinely want to help my campaign. The rules are very simple.”
The Campaign Finance Board did not comment directly on the case but said it seeks to ensure donors are accurately reported.
"We have very tight books," Liu told NBC New York. "The campaign finance board will audit the books and we are complying with the laws."
“I accept complete responsibility for the conduct of my campaign, the people involved and also our filings and any problems," Liu added. "I am responsible for this, which is why I intend to get to the bottom of this."
New York City candidates get $6 in public matching funds for every $1 they raise.