Monday, April 2, 2012
The latest Liu lies
From the NY Post:
City Comptroller John Liu was telling a tall tale when he claimed to have a letter from city ethics officials allowing his campaign manager to oversee operations at the Comptroller’s Office.
The only document Liu could produce yesterday was a memo signed by his general counsel, which does not clear Chung Seto — the architect of Liu’s political climb — to run the Comptroller’s Office.
The six-page memo purports to set conditions for Seto to “donate her labor and services” because “the parties desire to work together to further their mutual and individual aims.”
City ethics laws require that elected officials keep their political operations completely separate from their government offices, unless the arrangement is approved by the Conflicts of Interest Board.
Susan Lerner, an attorney and executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause New York, said, “This is a clear, blatant attempt to circumvent the city’s ethics law. You can’t exempt yourself by contract from the ethics law or any other law.”
From the NY Post:
Embattled city Comptroller John Liu’s campaign treasurer is trying to cut a deal with the feds over charges she steered illegal contributions into his campaign war chest, according to court papers filed yesterday.
Prosecutors “have had discussions regarding a possible disposition of this case” with lawyers for Jia “Jenny” Hou, but “the negotiations have not been completed,” the papers say.
“We plan to continue our discussions but do not anticipate a resolution before [yesterday’s] deadline under the Speedy Trial Act,” Manhattan federal prosecutor Brian Jacobs wrote.
From the Daily News:
Embattled City Controller John Liu has insisted he wasn’t involved with his campaign’s daily operations, but an email exchange shows he was meticulous and closely instructed his neophyte ex-treasurer.
He even objected to an instruction from the city Campaign Finance Board, all over a matter of style on a simple donation form.
Jia (Jenny) Hou — the 25-year-old former Liu treasurer charged by the feds as having played a key role in a conspiracy to duck campaign finance laws — was told by the CFB in 2010 that changes needed to be made to the card donors had to fill out.
The form contained multiple questions with corresponding boxes that donors had to check to affirm, as required by law, that the contributions were from their personal funds.
CFB ordered that a simple affirmation line be used, and recommended the accompanying language.
Hou — who was arrested last month in the ongoing federal probe of Liu’s 2013 mayoral campaign — responded by objecting in her boss’s name.
“I fixed the phrasing into exactly what you quoted in your email,” she wrote on Nov. 25, 2010. “John would like to keep the check boxes.”
The email messages, obtained by the Daily News under the Freedom of Information Law, seem to support the notion that Liu — an actuary by trade — nitpicked his campaign staff just like he is said to do with workers in his office.
From the NY Post:
It’s a bedrock rule of office that city officials separate their political activities from city business. All the more so for the comptroller, who oversees New York’s $70 billion budget and $120 billion pension funds.
But e-mails show Seto mixing both from Day One: referring financial advisers (and huge potential tax-funded fees) to the city’s pension czar, a Liu deputy; managing Liu’s official communications with the White House; even choosing decorations in Liu’s office.
Moreover, as The Post reported last year, Seto even joined Liu when he visited potential pension investors — where she presented herself as a top aide with a hand in making his office’s financial decisions.
This reputed “co-comptroller” may be next in line for arrest as the feds deepen their two-year investigation of Liu’s dubious fund-raising. Seto helped run the very campaign that the feds believe was a vast criminal enterprise that swallowed tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign cash from so-called “straw donors.”
The feds arrested Liu’s erstwhile campaign treasurer last month, but all indications are that she’s a small fish. Next up could well be the sharks: Seto and perhaps Liu himself.