FORMER CITY Controller John Liu took the Campaign Finance Board to court Wednesday, charging that it imposed a “death sentence” on his mayoral candidacy by denying him $3.8 million in public matching funds.
The federal lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, says the board’s “arbitrary” action caused Liu to suffer “extreme mental and emotional anguish” and “incalculable damage” to his “professional reputation and earning potential."
It also claims the denial of funding violated his campaign’s First Amendment right to free speech.
In its Aug. 5 decision, the board cited what it called “pervasive” violations of fundraising laws by Lieu’s campaign.
The decision followed a board investigation and, separately, the convictions of Liu’s campaign treasurer and a contributor for taking part in an illegal fundraising scheme.
But Liu was never charged, and his campaign said the board’s allegations of wrongdoing by his campaign were minor and never proven - while other candidates accused of worse routinely have received public funding.
Hobbled by the lack of money, Liu finished fourth in the Democratic primary on Sept. 10 with just 7% of the vote.
Liu’s lawyer, Richard Emery, said Wednesday that the board “crippled his campaign.”