John Liu

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John Liu

John C. Liu is a New York City politician.Liu served as the 43rd Comptroller of the City of New York, responsible for ensuring the City’s financial health.

Independently elected and sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2010, Comptroller Liu is charged with auditing the finances and performance of City agencies, reviewing City contracts, reporting on the state of the City’s budget and economy, marketing municipal bonds, and serving as custodian and trustee of the New York City Pension Funds.

Comptroller Liu served on the New York City Council from 2001 to 2009, representing District 20 in Queens, and headed the Council’s Transportation Committee. His accomplishments as a legislator included exposing financial irregularities at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), shepherding bills through the Transportation committee designed to enhance administrative efficiency, and enacting legislation ensuring equal access to City services regardless of language ability. Before joining the Council, he managed a team of actuaries at Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Comptroller Liu is honored to be the first Asian-American elected to citywide office in New York. He was born in Taiwan and immigrated to New York with his family when he was five years old. He is a proud product of the New York City public schools, from kindergarten at P.S. 20 in Queens through graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. He is also a proud public school parent. Comptroller Liu earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton in mathematical physics. He lives in Flushing, Queens, with his wife Jenny, and their son, Joey. [1]

Campaign irregularities

John Liu, the first Asian-American elected to citywide office, raised more than one million dollars in campaign donations in the first half of 2011, but the source of much of that political war chest is now being questioned. In an October 11 front-page story, the New York Times, which has in the past been a big booster of Liu, reports that its investigation of Liu's donors has uncovered troubling irregularities.

"Canvassing by The New York Times of nearly 100 homes and workplaces of donors listed on Mr. Liu's campaign finance reports raises questions about the source and legitimacy of some donations, as well as whether some of the donors even exist. Some two dozen irregularities were uncovered, including instances in which people listed as having given to Mr. Liu say they never gave, say a boss or other Liu supporter gave for them, or could not be found altogether." The story continues:

Two people who described attending banquets in which Mr. Liu appeared and posed for photos said that company executives who support him provided donations in the names of those in attendance.

"In addition," says the Times piece, "Mr. Liu is not complying with some basic campaign finance laws: To protect against so-called straw donors, the city requires that donor cards submitted with campaign contributions be filled out only by the person making the donation. In numerous instances in Mr. Liu's campaign, one person appears to have filled out cards for multiple donors."

Moreover, reports the Times investigation, his campaign "is also engaging in bundling, in which well-connected individuals collect contributions for a candidate from friends, relatives and others, but Mr. Liu has not disclosed the bundlers' names," as required by law.

These problems are occurring, notes the Times, "against a backdrop of an aggressive fund-raising drive by Mr. Liu" that is aimed particularly at extracting cash from the Chinese communities in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

As comptroller, John Liu is the city of New York's top financial officer, overseeing the city's $66-billion budget and its $120-billion pension fund. In a critical editorial on October 17, the Times noted with regard to Liu:

His job is to hold the city accountable for its finances. How can New Yorkers feel confident about his abilities in that job if he does not make certain his own fund-raising operation is complying with the city's campaign finance laws?[2]

Women for Liu

A growing female coalition formed last May 2009 by Brooklyn District Leader Olanike Alabi threw its support behind City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing). Women for Liu hosted a fundraiser June 17 in Manhattan for the Queens legislator fronted by the likes of U.S. Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-Brooklyn), Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Queens Assemblywomen Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica) and Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood).[3]

Endorsing Gillibrand

Meng, Gillibrand, Liu

City Comptroller John Liu and Assemblymember Grace Meng (D-Flushing) formally endorsed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) for the U.S. Senate March 20, 2010,

Gillibrand was appointed junior U,S, Senator from New York by Governor David Paterson after Senator Hillary Clinton was named Secretary of State by President Barack Obama and will run for election to the seat in November.

Joined by Asian-American community leaders, Liu and Meng led Gillibrand on a walking tour of Downtown Flushing’s business section along Main Street through narrow sidewalks crowded by locals shopping and going about their daily routine. The tour began at the Flushing Library at 41st Avenue and Main Street and ended at 37th Avenue and Main Street. Along the way, the trio stopped at Ou Jiang Supermarket underneath the Long Island Rail Road overpass, where Gillibrand ate a handmade dumpling and then sipped bubble tea at Taipan Bakery. Gillibrand also paid a visit to the Xinhua Bookstore the source of thousands of books in various Asian dialects.[4]

Supported by Gillibrand

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand seems to have a preferred candidate in the race to succeed Gary Ackerman.

After an event on equal pay at N.Y.U. Law April 16, 2012, , Gillibrand posed for photos with Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who said she was absorbing positive energy from the senator and Councilwoman Letitia James.

"We're making sure you win," Gillibrand told Meng.

Gillibrand had just told a mostly female crowd of about 100 that they should seek out less-senior women in their own field and offer them guidance on how to succeed in a male-dominated world. Her words to Meng seemed to be offered in that spirit.

As the women mixed up for various groups photos, Gillibrand gave Meng a serious look and told her to "keep fighting" to get to Congress.[5]BY REID PILLIFANT, Apr. 16, 2012]</ref>

Supporting DiNapoli


Democratic heavyweights came out for Tom DiNapoli, October 21, 2010, as he took his re-election campaign for state comptroller to Chinatown.

Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, New York City comptroller John Liu, state senator Daniel Squadron, assembly member Grace Meng, council member Margaret Chin were among supporters at a press conference at the Chinese Consolidated Business Association.

“We’ve all showed up together because that’s how important it is to send a message,” Squadron said.

DiNapoli emphasized his strong working relationship with Liu, labeling the pair a “dynamic duo”.

Silver took exception.

“Margaret Chin really just reminded me long before the two of you got together, Margaret Chin and I were called the dynamic duo,” he said.[6]

Binghampton forum

In 2009, Binghampton alumnus John Liu '88 was elected New York City comptroller, the first Asian American to win citywide office. On May 5, 2011, at the SUNY Global Center in New York City, Binghamton University's Asian and Asian American Alumni Council (AAAAC) assembled a panel to explore whether his election was an anomaly or a milestone that signaled a rising Asian-American political voice.

The panelists were Margaret Chin, the first Asian American elected to Manhattan's District 1; Grace Meng, the only Asian American in the New York State Assembly; Chung Seto, who ran John Liu's successful comptroller campaign and is now his advisor; Kevin Kim, candidate for New York City Council from Queens; and Professor Lisa Yun, professor in the departments of English, General Literature and Rhetoric and of Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University.

The moderator was Rocky Chin, director of the New York State Division of Human Rights and cofounder of the Asian American Bar Association of New York. Comptroller John Liu also stopped by.[7]

APALA hearing

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance New York Chapter convened the first New York Area Asian Pacific American Workers' Rights Hearing on Saturday, June 5, 2010. As part of a national campaign, the New York area hearing convened policymakers, scholars, and workers to address working conditions and the right to organize for APA workers. Additionally the hearing debuted APALA's new report, Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence.

"Asian Pacific American workers are an integral part of New York City and we are proud to convene the first citywide hearing dedicated to this segment of the workforce," said Lenny Moy, APALA New York Chapter President. "Our hope is that these hearings serve to build local capacity to support workers' rights and strengthen worker voices."

Hearing panelists included the following: New York City Comptroller John Liu, New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Colleen Gardener, State Director for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Peter Hatch, New York State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Terrence Melvin, New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO Political Director Sharada Polavarapu, Professor Tarry Hum, AFSCME DC 37 Treasurer Maf Uddin, SEIU 1199 Secretary-Treasurer Maria Castaneda and IBEW 3 Treasurer Michael Yee.[8]

Endorsed Weprin

August 11, 2011, City Comptroller John Liu threw his support behind David Weprin's bid for the Congressional seat previously held by Anthony Weiner.

Liu, a former Democratic Councilman from Flushing, as well as Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), and Councilwoman Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan) all endorsed Weprin, a Democrat, that day.

"As chair of the Finance Committee on the City Council, David balanced eight budgets in eight years — on time without cutting critical services," Liu said in a prepared statement. "His experience in balancing budgets gives h im the know-how we need in Washington to protect vital programs like Medicare and Social Security while helping get our nation back on a path toward fiscal sustainability."

Weprin is running against Republican Bob Turner for the 9th Congressional District in the Sept. 13 special election.

Meng said she expects Weprin to help support the mom and pop shops that dot main streets in Flushing, and other areas of her district.[9]

Liu's Beijing/communist connection

Liu has close ties to the Communist Party of China and to several communist organizations in the New York metropolitan area, including some with a history of violence. .

John Liu's has close ties to China's Consul General Keyu Peng, as well as to longtime communist activists John Choe and Margaret Chin of the now defunct Communist Workers Party. This is public knowledge that has been fairly widely reported over the past several years and which became an issue in 2009 when Liu decided to give up his city council seat and run for comptroller. John Choe is a Korean-American who is infatuated with North Korea's communist dictatorship and bears a vicious hatred toward the United States, which he has publicly denounced numerous times. Choe worked for years on Liu's city council staff and then joined Liu's comptroller staff after failing to win a city council seat for himself in 2009.

John Liu's political fortunes have risen over the past decade along with Beijing's alarming inroads into New York's Chinese communities. During his 2009 comptroller campaign, he was the target of protests by several Chinese-American groups who charged that he was completely in the pocket of the PRC communists. Most troubling are the charges that he provided political cover for communist thugs employed by and directed by Beijing's Consul General Keyu Peng to beat up Chinese American citizens, including many who were Liu's constituents. When these constituents appealed to Liu, they say he dismissed their concerns out of hand and sided with the consul's thugs who had attacked them.

The Post surmised that John Choe's resignation in September from his $105,000/year job on Liu's comptroller staff was really the result of getting "kicked to the curb" by his boss, who didn't want Choe's communist pedigree as an election albatross. However, as the Post noted, Choe left his official position with the city for a "cushy new job" with Asian Americans for Equality, which is, in essence, the new name for the Communist Workers Party. "Throughout the 1970s and '80s, AAFE and the now-defunct Communist Workers Party shared offices, phone lines and leaders," the Post reported. The name change, image change, and change of tactics have worked wonders for the comrades; the AAFE and its affiliates have been awarded millions of dollars in federal, state, local, and corporate grants and loans to dispense for training programs, home loans, business loans, and community development.[10]

Asian Americans for Equality

John Liu has close ties to Asian Americans for Equality.

AAFE board support

Two board members of Asian Americans for Equality, which got $50,000 from John Liu's portion of the City Council slush fund in 2009, were donor's to John Liu's campaign for City Controller. Banking executive Fred Hung gave the maximum $4,950.[11]

Asian Americans for Equality, 38th Anniversary


Dignitaries such as U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Comptroller John Liu, State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Council member Margaret Chin came to Chinatown March 2012, to help Asian Americans for Equality celebrate its 38th anniversary. A fundraiser for more than one-thousand supporters was held at the Jing Fong restaurant on Elizabeth Street.

AAFE honored San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who was elected last November as that city’s first Asian-American mayor. Other honorees included: Luis Garden Acosta (El Puente), Eileen Fitgerald (NeighborWorks America), Errol Louis (NY1) and Chanchanit Martorell (Thai Community Development Center).[12]

Death of Private Chen

Army Private Danny Chen, a 19-year old Lower East Side resident, was found dead at a military base in Afghanistan October 3rd, 2011. Chen had been shot in the head. Army officials have admitted he was the victim of bullying, but many other details remain shrouded in secrecy.

In December 2011, elected officials including U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, City Councilmember Margaret Chin, representatives of the Organization of Chinese Americans and other community advocates met with officials at the Pentagon.

During OCA-New York’s annual meeting in Chinatown Saturday, Velazquez said, “we are demanding assurances from the Army that they are conducting a swift, thorough investigation.”

If there’s wrongdoing, Velazquex added, those responsible should be brought to justice.” During the meeting, OCA-New York President Elizabeth OuYang said there’s great concern about the investigation, given the Army’s history of covering up information reagarding non-combat deaths. She announced that the well-known forensic expert, Dr. Henry Lee (who became famous during the OJ Simpson murder trial) has agreed to help evaluate the Army’s findings.

Also held was a march and vigil for Danny Chen. It startat the Army recruiting center at 143 Chambers Street and ends in Columbus Park in Chinatown. Many elected officials took part, including Velasquez and Chin, and New York City Comptroller John Liu and Assemblymember Grace Meng.[13]

Dream of Equality awardee

John Liu is a past recipient of Asian Americans for Equality's annual Dream of Equality award.[14]

Mayoral race

In the 2013 New York mayoralty race there were four significant early Democratic Party candidates.

According to Communist Party USA member Danny Rubin, writing in the People's World;[15]

It is widely agreed that the politics of the four range from Christine Quinn, toward the right, to Bill DeBlasio, to William Thompson, to John Liu on the left. Council Speaker Quinn's politics are similar to Michael Bloomberg's but still better than any of the non-Democrats. Yet her election would hardly change the direction of the city. While appealing to some because she would be the first woman and first openly gay mayor, her positions on issues go against their interests. She continually slows down and compromises all pro-working families legislation, such as holding up a vote on sick leave. She joins the Republicans in pledging to reappoint Ray Kelly as police commissioner, despite his stop-and-frisk policy. She has strong real estate developer financing.
Liu is widely considered the most consistent person towards the left. He calls for an $11 an hour minimum wage, and calls for ending stop and frisk entirely. But his poll numbers are the lowest of the four, 9 percent, probably because of the smear campaign run against him around apparent fund raising violations by a couple people on his campaign. The government admits they cannot indict him. Liu is an excellent campaigner but virtually no one thinks he can win.

Muslim Democratic Club of New York

New York City’s first Muslim club is looking to have an impact on the mayor’s race. And organizers of the group, the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, cited current Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies–notably, the city police department’s controversial Muslim surveillance efforts–as a key motivating factor as they seek to ensure his successor follows a new path.


“The mayor has been a problem for this community,” one club leader, Ali Najmi, said. “We want to send a message to City Hall that the next mayor needs to treat us differently.”

But the club’s first ever meeting, held in a posh Midtown lounge March 2013, also focused on even more local political issues. Mr. Najmi, along with Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour and other organizers, led a PowerPoint presentation for the dozens of attendees about the untapped voting strength of Muslim Democrats in the city, keying on City Council districts in Brooklyn and Queens where Muslims live in significant numbers.

The ultimate goal of the club, which will begin fundraising soon, is to build a field operation powerful enough to influence elections throughout New York City. Influence for its own sake, though, is not the goal. In addition to the surveillance issue, MDCNY is currently pushing for the inclusion of Muslim holidays in the public school calendar. Foreign policy issues are not on the agenda.

“Those are the two main issues that we hear already on Twitter, on Facebook, from our community and the centers that we work for. As you know, many of us are in the grassroots community. Those are going to be our two big issues and the usual, health care, immigration,” Ms. Sarsour said.

Two Democratic mayoral candidates, Comptroller John Liu and Sal Albanese, addressed the club, as well as the city’s only Muslim elected official, Councilman Robert Jackson, also a Manhattan borough president candidate. Mr. Liu in particular has been a vociferous critic of the NYPD.

“I think more than any other community, the Muslim community has some very severe challenges and important issues the city has to deal with,” Mr. Liu said. “We have ongoing issues of surveillance of people just because of their religious faith- that’s not right, we should put an end to that. Kids and families have to choose between going to school and observing important holidays in the Muslim faith- that has to change also.”

Muslim Democratic Club endorsement

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The Muslim Democratic Club of New York endorsed John Liu in 2018.

AFCSME 37 endorsement


Saying New York City Comptroller John Liu "would end the favoritism towards the wealthy 1%" and return the Big Apple's government to its people, AFSCME District Council 37 delegates unanimously endorsed his mayoral candidacy.

The May 28, 2013 endorsement by the 300 delegates, representing 121,000 workers and their families and 50,000 retirees, gives Liu - an ally of DC 37 in rooting out no-bid sweetheart city contracts to private firms - a boost in the crowded mayoral race.

The AFSCME endorsement includes "a pledge to put our powerful, sophisticated field operations" to work for him, DC 37 President Lillian Roberts said on May 29.

"DC 37 members and all New Yorkers face a critical mayoral election this November, which could bring a truly great mayor who will end the current favoritism toward the wealthy 1% and restore government 'for the people'-the poor and working-class people of New York City, a mayor who makes New York City's neglected communities and the public workers that serve them a priority," she added. Roberts called Liu "the candidate best qualified to be that mayor."

The union picked Liu after its screening committee and convention delegates evaluated Democratic hopefuls and after it hosted a May 16 mayoral forum.

"We evaluated Liu's answers to tough questions-both at our mayoral forum and from the screening committee-regarding issues of importance to District Council 37 and the communities our union members serve," said Roberts. "We also looked at his consistent track record of actions to curtail contracting out, overspending and waste of taxpayer dollars throughout his tenure. DC 37 members have been able to count on Liu's support during our fight to protect vital services and our jobs.

"This union has a proven record of successfully supporting our endorsed candidates. We look forward to putting DC 37's mighty army of volunteers into the field to help elect Liu as...a mayor who truly believes in government for the people." [16] May 31 2013


July 2018, the former city comptroller John Liu is making another attempt at a political comeback, declaring himself a candidate against State Senator Tony Avella of Queens, a member of the now disbanded group of breakaway Democrats reviled by progressives.

Mr. Liu’s decision to run, and the requisite last-minute petition drive — his supporters started collecting signatures last week and submitted them to the Board of Elections on Thursday — come on the heels of the recent surprise primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive political newcomer who dethroned Representative Joseph Crowley, energizing the Democratic Party’s left wing and shaking up politics in Queens, where Mr. Crowley holds outsize influence.

Mr. Avella’s district partially overlaps Mr. Crowley’s district. Mr. Liu ran against Mr. Avella in 2014, in his first bid for a comeback after running a distant fourth in the Democratic primary for mayor the previous year, when he was weakened by a campaign finance scandal. Mr. Avella beat him.

Mr. Avella was one of eight senators who made up the Independent Democratic Conference, known as the I.D.C., which for years worked with Republicans in an arrangement that allowed the Republican Party to control the State Senate.

Progressive Democrats have vowed to unseat the I.D.C., despite a pledge by the group, announced in April by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to dissolve, rejoin the main body of Senate Democrats and end its alliance with Republicans.

Mr. Avella had been the only senator in the I.D.C. to have avoided a progressive challenger this year, according to Lisa DellAquila, a leader of True Blue NY, an activist group that is focused on defeating I.D.C. members in Democratic primaries, and helped coordinate the petition drive to put Mr. Liu on the ballot.

“A little over a week ago, we got together and I told them that I’d be willing to run, but they had to mount a grass-roots petition drive and get me on the ballot, and if they can do that, I’ll run,” Mr. Liu said on Friday. “I have to be honest, I wasn’t totally sure that they’d be able to do it. It was already the beginning of July, a lot of people are out of town, it’s a holiday week and the deadline was impending in days, but it really was impressive the way they organized almost overnight.”

He needed 1,000 valid signatures from Democratic voters in the district. Ms. DellAquila said that they submitted about 3,000.

Mr. Liu, 51, who has spent the last few years teaching public finance at Columbia University and Baruch College, had been approached in recent months about running against Mr. Avella again but he declined. A former Democratic assemblyman, John Duane, had committed to running, but dropped out after the I.D.C. struck its deal with Mr. Cuomo.

A similar sequence of events occurred in 2014. Then, as now, angry Democrats vowed to challenge I.D.C. members, and Mr. Liu entered the race. But once the I.D.C.’s leader, Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, responded by pledging to return to the Democratic fold after the elections, much of the momentum behind challenges like Mr. Liu’s — as well as union support for them — disappeared.

Mr. Liu said that experience contributed to keeping him on the sidelines this time. But after Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, a coalition of progressive groups renewed efforts to draft him as a candidate.

In 2014, when Mr. Liu ran against Mr. Avella, he was endorsed by the Queens County Democratic Party, which Mr. Crowley leads. This time the county machine has endorsed Mr. Avella, the incumbent.[17]


  1. NYC official bio, accessed March 1, 20013
  2. TNA, Monday, 24 October 2011 11:04 Communist Ties and Donor Scandal Dog John Liu's NYC Mayoral Bid, Written by William F. Jasper
  3. [ Queens camapigner, Katz may be sole woman in race, but Liu is their man Posted on June 12, 2009 by Stephen Stirling]
  4. Gazette, Gillibrand Tours Flushing With Meng And Liu By Jason D. Antos, 2010-03-24 / Front Page
  5. CAPITAL, Gillibrand backing Grace Meng for Congress, unofficially
  6. [, NY Observer, DiNapoli: Wilson Has “No Experience…In Delivering What Government Needs To Do”By Meghan Keneally 10/21/10'
  7. Harpur Perspective, To be seen and heard
  8. APALA Press Release APALA Convenes First New York Area Asian Pacific American Workers' Rights Hearing Monday, June 7, 2010
  9. Comptroller throws support behind Weprin, Anna Gustafson | Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011
  10. TNA, Monday, 24 October 2011 11:04 Communist Ties and Donor Scandal Dog John Liu's NYC Mayoral Bid, Written by William F. Jasper
  11. NY Daily news, Controller candidate John Liu's money trail does not add up, By Erin Einhorn / DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU, Sunday, September 13, 2009
  12. The Lo-Down, AAFE Celebrates 38 Years, Honors San Francisco Mayor, By Ed Litvak in Politics on March 26, 2012 12:15 pm
  13. Rally For Private Danny Chen on Thursday, By Ed Litvak in Featured, Lower East Side News on December 12, 2011
  14. [AAFE 2013 Banquet Journal, by Douglas Lim at Mar 26, 2013]
  15. PW, New York City elections hold promise of change, by: Danny Rubin, March 21 2013
  16. PW NYC AFSCME Council endorses Liu in mayoral race
  17. [1]