City Comptroller John Liu was dealt a major blow on Wednesday as a fundraiser for his campaign, Xing Wu Pan, was indicted on federal wire fraud charges just one day before the comptroller's first major public policy speech.
Pan, also known as Oliver Pan, was arrested in November for allegedly funneled $16,000 to Liu’s likely campaign for mayor in 2013.
The U.S. attorney says Pan tried to circumvent the legal contribution limit to Liu by arranging for several people to divide up a large contribution and claim the donation was their own.
Some of that money would have also qualified for matching funds from the city.
The indictment comes in the midst of a federal investigation of the Liu campaign.
NY1 had an interview set up with Liu in advance of Thursday's State of the City speech, but the comptroller wasn't interested in talking about the indictment.
"This is the first I'm hearing about it," said Liu.
In his State of the City speech, the first of its kind delivered by a city comptroller in recent memory, Liu plans to propose an expansion of broadband access for low-income families, like those on food stamps or Medicaid. He also plans to announce job creation programs.
"In the last two years that I've been comptroller, we've done many things that have not traditionally been done in this office, with an eye towards making New York City a greater place for all New Yorkers, for creating opportunity," said Liu.
The address, which will be delivered at City College, is widely seen as an effort to move away from the negative publicity surrounding his campaign and raise his profile citywide.
"it seems like to me is an effort to expand his profile. It's a very unusual thing and certainly to attract attention away from the negative news he's been getting and put something positive on the table," said Stephen Sigmund of the Global Strategy Group.
Liu's staff members said they have invited all of the city's elected officials and they expect a full house.
Meanwhile, Liu has said his office is offering complete cooperation with the ongoing investigations into his campaign finances.
If Pan is convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
NY1 has reached out to his attorney. It is unclear when Pan will be arraigned.