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Liu Still Reeling from Staffer’s Arrest, Focuses on Future

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Comptroller John Liu walks back to his office surrounded by reporters. (Jessie Wright-Mendoza for WNYC)

City Comptroller John Liu says he’s still “stunned” by the arrest of his campaign treasurer, Jia “Jenny” Hou. He said, “at this point there are probably few things that will stun me again.”

Still, it was business as usual for John Liu on Thursday. He kept a busy public schedule, stopping to speak briefly with reporters on his way to an event at the Chinese Consolidate Benevolent Association (CCBA) in the afternoon – and was then trailed by the reporters on his walk back to his office in the Municipal Building. While he appeared stressed, Liu insisted he was “moving forward.”

“My campaign has been accused of many allegations. My supporters have been accused. My staff, my campaign staff has been accused,” Liu elaborated. “At some point, as I've always said, like with every other candidate, I'm responsible for what happens with my own campaign and will continue to do so.”

Liu was greeted warmly by the mainly Chinese audience, who were gathered for the inauguration of Paul K. Ng, the new president of the CCBA. He replaces outgoing president Jack Eng.

Alluding to the media scrutiny he is facing, Liu recalled that past CCBA events had gone largely ignored by the media.

“It seems like all the eyes and ears of New York are on the CCBA event that we’re having today,” joked Liu to applause.

Liu noted the inauguration passes the torch of leadership in a historic organization, one that represents an immigrant community in the city that, he said, dates back a century and a half.

“This is New York, the greatest city in the world, and this is America, the greatest country in the world, and no matter what we always strive to succeed and certainly to persevere,” said Liu.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who is also considered a potential mayoral candidate in 2013, also attended the event. 

“I’m not really thinking about campaigns at this time and I’m not really thinking about his campaign,” said Stringer, who would not comment on the current investigation into Liu’s campaign or his ability to do his current job as comptroller.

“Things are playing out in the press and obviously I’m watching the situation, but I don’t have a comment today, perhaps in the future, but not today” said Stringer.

A federal investigation into illegal contributions to his campaign has overshadowed Liu and his possible run for mayor in 2013.  The 25-year-old Hou was the second person arrested in the probe.

Liu said he has reached out to Hou, but he would not elaborate on the conversation.  Liu deflected questions about whether he had appointed a new campaign treasurer and whether or not Hou was still on the campaign payroll.

On Wednesday, Liu reaffirmed his commitment to his current job. Hours after Hou’s arrest on Tuesday, Liu said he was reassessing his bid for office in 2013.

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