Monday, April 21, 2014

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Asian-American Community Struggles With Liu Controversy

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City Comptroller John Liu has lifted a self-imposed campaign limit and is still fundraising even as his campaign is under federal investigation, and advocates in the Asian-American community are now planning a strategy to move forward in their support of him. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Many Asian-Americans across the city are expressing the same sentiment when it comes to the campaign finance controversy surrounding Comptroller John Liu.

“No one knows what the facts are,” says Wellington Chen of the Chinatown Partnership.

It’s been months since a Liu fundraiser was accused of concocting a straw donor scheme to get over-the-limit contributions to Liu and even longer since serious questions were raised about Liu’s donors and those that collect donations for him.

His 2013 campaign, possibly for mayor, is the subject of a federal investigation.

For those who rallied behind the first-ever citywide Asian-American official, it’s disheartening.

“We finally have someone who has the momentum going, and if the arrow gets shot in some way, which is a lot of the electoral process, and we can dampen the enthusiasm, it’s a terrible thing to happen to our community,” says David Chen of the Chinese-American Planning Council.

Since the scandal, Liu supporters allege he has been unfairly targeted.

Others say an immigrant community just starting to get involved in politics is not well-versed in campaign finance laws.

Community leaders have been meeting behind closed doors to discuss how to move forward. The effort includes educating voters.

"We need to understand better about the law, so we don't make the same mistakes again," says Cao K. O of the Asian American Federation.

“So how can we bundle effectively, but legally, because it’s complicated,” says Chen.

Residents and advocates in Chinatown worry that the Liu scandal will affect their influence over city politics. When NY1 visited one business where five employees donated to the Liu campaign, the president had one question: “How much trouble is the comptroller really in?”

Other donors, like one Brooklyn wholesaler where 11 employees each gave $800, aren't taking questions.

It’s too early to tell what the investigation will uncover.

“How much did he know and when did he know it and how involved was he?” says Doug Muzzio of Baruch College.

It’s not stopping the comptroller, at least for now.

He is scheduled to have a fundraiser at a Downtown restaurant next week.

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