City Comptroller John Liu says he won't accept campaign donations from people who do business with the city, but a NY1 investigation found that people doing business with the city are still finding ways to help Liu raise tens of thousands of dollars. Liu called the intermediaries "longtime friends". NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
City Comptroller John Liu has a new claim on the campaign trail.
"I do not accept contributions from people who do business with the city of New York," Liu said on February 28. "I think it's unethical, and therefore, I do not do it."
But that's not exactly true for some of his fundraisers.
A NY1 review of John Liu's donations shows the comptroller received nearly $48,000 in campaign cash that was collected by people who were doing business with the city. The vast majority was raised in 2011.
Most of that cash came from two developers.
One was Jorge Madruga of Jackson Development, who developed an affordable housing project in the Bronx. The project was financed in part by the city. He raised $18,000 for the comptroller.
The other was the developer of a hotel in Chinatown. He raised more than $22,000.
Neither returned calls for comment.
Some also came from the former executive director of a nonprofit organization. He has since left the group.
When asked about the cash, Liu said, "The very small number of intermediaries that happen to do business with the city are also longtime friends of mine. I think that they themselves are not contributing to the campaign, and ultimately, it's where the money comes from."
Liu has said he is holding his campaign to a higher standard.
"The high ethical bars that I have set, I think, I think I'm the only candidate who has an FBI investigation into his fundraising," he said on February 28.
His former campaign treasurer and a former fundraiser are set to go on trial this month for fraud. They are accused of getting over-the-limit campaign contributions to the comptroller through fake donors.
Liu has not been implicated in any wrongdoing.
Over the course of his campaign, the comptroller has received another $16,000 from people who do business with the city. The campaign has returned more than three-quarters of that cash.