He isn't demanding a do-over of last year's Democratic mayoral primary, but six months after finishing a distant fourth, John Liu is suing the city, as the former city comptroller says he suffered "extreme mental and emotional anguish" after he was denied public matching funds that may have meant a closer contest. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
John Liu says this isn't sour grapes.
"This isn't about me or my election or my campaign," he said.
His new lawsuit is actually, at least partly, about all three. He's seeking unspecified financial damages from the city.
The former comptroller is also seeking to shut down the Campaign Finance Board. Perhaps unknown to many, it wields big power, doling out more than $35 million in taxpayer money to match campaign donations in races for city offices. Or, in the case of Liu, not doling out the money.
After Liu's former treasurer and a former fundraiser were both convicted of crimes relating to fundraising in his campaign, the Campaign Finance Board in August denied him about $3.5 million that Liu now says is unconstitutional.
"They don't have any moorings. They don't have any chart by which they operate, and the consequence of that is this erratic, strange and very unpredictable and often severely oppressive behavior," said Richard Emery, Liu's attorney.
Liu's lawsuit also says that the board's current chair is in her post illegally. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her as he left office at the end of last year.
A Bloomberg spokesman declined to comment.
The Campaign Finance Board is clearly paying attention. It sent someone to take notes at Liu's news conference.
In a statement, its executive director says, "Over 25 years and seven mayoral elections, the Board's oversight has always been tough, but fair. It protects taxpayers, and ensures campaigns that receive funds are playing by the rules. We will not comment further on the litigation until the appropriate time."
Defeated in his bid, Liu is now teaching, but another go at elected office is on his mind. He's said to be mulling a bid for Congress. It's something mentioned in his lawsuit, noting that the board's standing decision is complicating his return to politics.