In 2011, an FBI agent was assigned to infiltrate the campaign of John Liu, and his meetings, including one with the comptroller, were all captured on tape. The tapes were unveiled in court this week as part of a federal trial against two former associates of Liu, who is now running for mayor. NY1's Courtney Gross caught up with Liu and filed the following report.
While talking to NY1 Friday, City Comptroller John Liu displayed a business card.
"My wife asks me to hold onto it as a good luck charm," he said. "But this turns out to be a bogus business card."
The card says Richard Kong.
Liu met him at a August 2011 fundraiser.
He wasn't a businessman. He was really an undercover FBI agent.
They were introduced by Oliver Pan, Liu's former fundraiser, who is now charged in a straw donor scheme.
Pan's trial started this week in federal court.
The case is based on undercover videos, including one from a meeting at Oliver Pan's house in New Jersey.
"He has asked me to represent him in New York City, especially in charge of fundraising side," Pan said in the video.
Kong allegedly worked with Pan to try to get an illegal campaign donation to the Liu campaign through straw donors.
"They use their own credit card or cash, and then we give them the cash," Pan said in a phone conversation.
That donation put the FBI agent and Liu in the same room, Kong claiming he needed a friendly politician's support for a business venture.
Liu's responses on tape are extremely brief.
When the FBI agent took the stand this week, he said he was actually tasked with trying to get an illegal campaign contribution to the comptroller.
On Staten Island on Friday, the comptroller questioned whether any campaign could defend itself if an FBI agent has that kind of assignment.
"The reality is that there is no campaign who can defend themselves against an FBI undercover agent that is intent on deceiving his way into a campaign," Liu said. "And that is exactly what happened to my campaign."
Liu has not been implicated with any wrongdoing.
His former treasurer, Jenny Hou, has also been charged in the scheme.