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Liu defends his indicted Flushing campaign treasurer

City Comptroller John Liu has been discussing issues surrounding his campaign for mayor.
TimesLedger Newspapers

City Comptroller John Liu defended his campaign treasurer and described his political future in hazy terms in a recent interview, even as he kept on producing audits on city agencies.

Liu strongly defended Jia “Jenny” Hou, the 25-year-old Flushing treasurer of his campaign who was arrested on charges of wire fraud and could face 60 years in prison.

“My campaign has and continues to act appropriately. We follow the rules,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press last week. “I believe in my campaign treasurer, and I believe in my campaign staff.”

Liu told the Associated Press that he did not micromanage Hou’s activities, but ultimately takes responsibility for his staff’s actions.

The comptroller also said he was aware of questionable fund-raising tactics in Asian-American communities in the past and sought to prevent any problems in his campaign.

Hou was indicted and charged with wire fraud in connection with allegedly instructing a campaign worker to forge signatures and offering to reimburse another donor.

But Liu also acknowledged that federal investigators were likely not satisfied with Hou, who has remained loyal to him, and may look to work their way up the food chain and make a more high-level indictment, according to the AP.

A spokesman for Liu had indicated that the comptroller would find a new treasurer for his campaign, but according to the city Campaign Finance Board, as of Tuesday afternoon he had not filed any paperwork to make the change.

Liu also did not rule out a mayoral run in the AP interview, but did say he understood why people questioned his political viability.

The comptroller has not shied away from public appearances since the earlier indictment of Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan on wire fraud charges. Pan was arrested after an FBI agent posed as a wealthy donor who wanted to funnel more money than is allowed by law into Liu’s war chest by using a group of fake donors.

Liu has also not stopped putting out audits of city agencies, recently taking the city Economic Development Corp. to task for mishandling contracts, the city Parks Department for not making repairs in a timely manner and the management of a 911 call center for an inflated budget and growing timeline.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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