Mayoral candidate John Liu says the city Campaign Finance Board staff has recommended denying him public matching funds, dealing a potentially crippling blow to the city comptroller’s bid to become New York’s first Asian mayor.
The board’s staff recently sent Liu a letter advising that “they are inclined to make an unfavorable recommendation to the board,” a campaign spokeswoman said. The board is scheduled to meet on Monday, when they are expected to consider the recommendation, The Wall Street Journal reported.
A board spokesman declined to comment on the reason for the negative recommendation until after they make a determination. But Liu has been under federal and city investigation forseveral years over campaign finance irregularities. He also has had to contend with the recent convictions of a former campaign worker and a former fundraiser on charges of scheming to circumvent donation limits.
“Every curve ball imaginable has been thrown at me during this campaign, and so we’ll see what happens,” Liu said, adding that his campaign has complied with all requirements. “But nothing’s going to deter us from running this campaign and winning this election.”
Liu said the board should not deny him the funds he needs.
“We’ve complied with all the requirements, and we’ve been diligent about it all the way through,” he said.
Liu’s aide and fundraiser are appealing their verdict, and Liu has not been charged with any crime.
The loss of public financing, $6 for each dollar raised from small political donations, can be fatal to Liu’s candidacy. He has been the workhorse of the field, attending more events than the other candidates on most days, but that has not translated into donations.
Of the $3.4 million he raised — less than some other candidates but heavier on smaller contributions — he would potentially be eligible to receive the maximum in matching funds, $3.53 million. In return, candidates, including those denied public money, agree to a spending cap.
Aside from his financial troubles, Liu has lagged in the single digits in virtually every poll taken. He claims that pollsters undercount Asian communities, the base of his support.
Liu has also received a few impressive union endorsements, which would give him the manpower to get his voter base to the polls for the Sept. 10 primary. Some of them issued statements to the Journal expressing outrage that their candidate would be denied public funding.
“How dare they,” said Arthur Cheliotes, president of Communications Workers Local 1180, which endorsed Liu. “If there have been improper contributions, those individual contributions should be dealt with and matching funds not given for those. But for those that were properly submitted … those matching funds must be paid out.”
About a hundred Liu supporters rallied outside the board’s Manhattan headquarters on Sunday.