John Liu

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For other uses of the name John Liu, see John Liu (disambiguation).
John C. Liu
John Liu at the 2009 West Indian Day Parade by DS.jpg
Liu at the 2009 West Indian Day Parade.
43rd New York City Comptroller
In office
January 1, 2010 (2010-01-01) – December 31, 2013 (2013-12-31)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Preceded by Bill Thompson
Succeeded by Scott Stringer
Member of the New York City Council from the 20th District
In office
January 2002 (2002-01) – January 2010 (2010-01)
Preceded by Julia Harrison
Succeeded by Peter Koo
Constituency Queens: Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Mitchell Gardens, Kissena Park, Harding Heights, Auburndale; part of Whitestone
Personal details
Born Chun Liu
(1967-01-08) January 8, 1967 (age 50)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jenny Liu
Children 1
Residence Flushing, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Binghamton University

John Chun Liu (born January 8, 1967) is a Taiwanese American politician in New York City, who previously served as the 43rd New York City Comptroller from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2013. He was also a candidate in the 2013 New York City mayoral election. Liu had served on the New York City Council representing District 20, and was elected to the City Council in 2001 to represent northeast Queens, then was re-elected in 2003 and 2005.

Liu entered the New York City Comptroller election in 2009 and won the race on November 3, 2009, becoming the first Asian American to be elected to a city-wide office in New York City.[1][2] Liu teaches municipal finance and policy at Baruch College.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Chun Liu was born in Taiwan, and moved to the United States at the age of 5. Chang F. Liu, his father, was a Master of Business Administration graduate student and bank teller.[4] In honor of John F. Kennedy, Liu's father changed his sons' names to John, Robert, and Edward, and his own name to Joseph.[5]

Liu attended PS 20 in Queens, and the Bronx High School of Science in 1985,[6][7] doing community organizing and volunteer work in his spare time.[4]

During his years attending Binghamton University, he majored in mathematical physics and rose his way up to executive vice president of the University's Student Association.[6] He worked as a manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers and served as president of the North Flushing Civic Association before his election to the City Council.[6][8]

New York City Council (2002–2010)[edit]

Liu was elected to the New York City Council in 2001 representing the northeast Queens area (District 20), being the first Asian American in history to be elected to the NYC city council.[4] He also served as the Chairperson of the New York City Council's Transportation Committee, and served on the committees on Education, Consumer Affairs, Health, Land Use, Contracts, Oversight & Investigations as well as Lower Manhattan Redevelopment.[9]

City Comptroller run[edit]

In March 2009, Liu announced that he was running for the post of New York City Comptroller.[10] Liu had raised $3 million for his political run.[11]

In May, Liu picked up several endorsements from several different organizations: The Village Independent Democrats,[12] The Queens County Democratic organization,[13] the local Americans for Democratic Action chapter[14] and the Working Families Party,[15] 1199 SEIU union local and the Uniformed Firefighters Association.[16]

Later, in September 2009, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) began endorsing Liu. In the September 15 Democratic primary, Liu was the front-runner, ending up with 133,986 votes (38% of the vote), but because he did not manage to reach 40% of the vote, a run-off election was required between Liu and David Yassky, who received 30 percent of the vote in the primary,[17] but Liu later won the run-off by taking 55.6% of the vote.[18][19]

In the general election on November 3, Liu won the comptroller election with a total of 696,330 votes (76% of votes). Republican candidate Joseph Mendola came in second with 19.3% of the vote.[citation needed]

Comptroller (2010-2013)[edit]

During his tenure as New York comptroller, Liu claimed to have saved New York City more than $3 billion by cracking down on wasteful expenditures and cutting inefficiencies. He spearheaded Checkbook 2.0, the initiative to upgrade the city's current online transparency system.[20]

Liu is a leader of the Asian Political Leadership Fund, a federally designated 527 fund whose purpose is to promote political leadership from within the Asian American community.[21]

Mayoral run[edit]

Liu ran as a candidate in the 2013 New York City mayoral election, but came in fourth place in the Democratic Party's primary election.[22]


Liu's platform in the primary included:

  1. Improving air quality and clean water by improving the city's transit system, pressuring the MTA to modernize their transit systems in order to reduce greenhouse gas emission and improve energy efficiency.[23]
  2. Greatly improve energy efficiency by supporting large-scale energy alternatives such as solar and wind energy as opposed to the usage of fossil fuels which would quickly deplete the Earth's natural resources as well as release about 10 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.[24]
  3. Create opportunities to source food locally, which would improve New York's economy and further distribute capital throughout the City in an environmentally sound way.[25]
  4. Expanding safe streets for Senior Citizens by creating shorter crosswalks, implementing more countdown timers, and creating larger signs to reduce the risk of injury from careless drivers, inattentiveness, etc.[25]
  5. Support revitalizing brownfields, abandoned areas which were previously used as industrial centers for factories and mass production.[25]
  6. Advocating to increase minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $11.50/hour to increase the standard of living in New York City.[20]
  7. Legalizing, regulating and taxing the production and sale of recreational and medicinal marijuana to adults of age 21 and older, and directing the tax revenues and savings to university education.[26]

Denial of matching funds[edit]

On August 5, 2013, the Campaign Finance Board denied Liu matching funds worth $3.53 million for his campaign. His supporters disagreed with the decision, saying they had legitimately donated funds to Liu's campaign, and were being denied their rights.[27]

Investigation into fundraising[edit]

Investigations into the fundraising practices of Liu's election campaigns found some irregularities, including the use of straw donors and undisclosed bundling.[28]

A New York Times article in October 2011 documented several inconsistencies: after canvassing 100 households that were listed as having donated to the campaign, 24 irregularities were found, including donations from individuals who claimed they never donated, whose employers donated in their names, and several purported donors who did not appear to exist and could not be found.[28] Many of the irregularities in Liu's campaign were connected to the Chinese business community in Queens. In New York City, each dollar, up to the first $175 per contributor, donated to a candidate is matched with $6 in taxpayer money. This greatly increases the value of receiving many small donations and thus seeks to enhance the political voice of small donors. [28]

Following publication of the New York Times article, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating the irregularities in Liu's campaign.[29]

In November 17, 2011, one of Liu's fundraisers, 46-year-old Oliver Pan (潘心武, Pān Xīnwǔ), was arrested on charges of wire fraud from illegal donations.[30][31] Pan was approached by an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent posing as someone who wanted to donate $16,000 to Liu, well over the city donation limit of $4,950 for individual contributions.[30] Pan then arranged for 20 fictitious donors to make donations to Liu's campaign with the money provided by the undercover FBI agent.[32]

In the first half of 2011, Liu received more than $1 million in fundraising contributions to support his mayoral candidacy for 2013.[30][33] In light of the allegations of campaign finance fraud, Liu hired former state attorney general Robert Abrams to conduct a review of his campaign finances. Abrams resigned on November 17.[34]

In February 2012, Jia "Jenny" Hou, the treasurer of the Liu campaign, was arrested for using straw donors to circumvent campaign finance laws and gain more matching funds from taxpayers.[35] In October 2013, Hou was sentenced to ten months in prison after her conviction for attempted wire fraud, obstruction of justice and making false statements.[36] Pan was sentenced to four months in jail after his conviction for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and attempt to commit wire fraud. In connection with their sentencing, Liu released a statement where he claimed that "the U.S. Attorney's Office set out to destroy me with what has been described as an extraordinarily intrusive and exhaustive investigation." The city's campaign financing board had denied Liu matching public funds as a result of the allegations.[citation needed]

Liu lost his last race for political office when he was defeated by Tony Avella for the State Senate seat.[37]

After three years of extensive investigation into John Liu's campaign, the Federal Bureau of Investigation still has yet to bring formal charges against Liu.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Liu is married to Jenny Liu, an engineer; the couple has one child.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2009 Election Results". The New York Times. November 4, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  2. ^ Victoria Cavaliere (November 4, 2009). "Liu Becomes First Asian-American in City-Wide Office". NBC. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Mayoral Candidates: Where Are They Now?". New York Observer. March 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Janet Dang (May 25, 2000). "Building Trust: Candidate vies to become first API New York City Council member". AsianWeek. Retrieved November 8, 2007. 
  5. ^ O'Donnell, Michelle (April 22, 2006). "Political Trailblazer Is Quick to a Microphone". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c Official Biography of John C. Liu on the NYC Council website; accessed September 30, 2009.
  7. ^ Official Opening of Bronx Science's New Foreign Language Laboratory on December 3, 2008: Queens Councilman John C. Liu, a Bronx Science alumnus, Class of 1985, was instrumental in procuring the funding for this Laboratory. Found at The Bronx High School of Science official website; accessed September 30, 2009.
  8. ^ "About John Liu". People for John Liu. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Council Member - District 20 (biography)". New York City Council. Archived from the original on 2009-04-08. Retrieved August 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ Pete Davis (March 11, 2009). "John Liu now running for City Comptroller". The Queens Courier. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  11. ^ JONATHAN P. HICKS (September 25, 2008). "Queens Councilman Leaning Toward Comptroller Run". New York Times City Page Blog. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Village Independent Democrats". Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ Queens Chronicle, May 28, 2009
  14. ^ The Daily Gotham
  15. ^ Liu endorsement,, April 23, 2009.
  16. ^ Fahim, Kareem; Bosman, Julie (August 31, 2009). "Liu and de Blasio Gain Key Endorsements". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Community Newspaper Group". Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  18. ^ "De Blasio, Liu Claim Victory In Primary Runoff". NY1. September 29, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  19. ^ Bosman, Julie; Fahim, Kareem (September 29, 2009). "De Blasio and Liu Win in N.Y. Democratic Runoffs". New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  20. ^ a b Office of the New York City Comptroller John C. Liu; accessed November 4, 2014.
  21. ^ Sam Yoon. "About Us". Asian Political Leadership Fund. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  22. ^ Oh, Inae (2013-09-10). "John Liu Election 2013: NYC Comptroller Defeated In NYC Mayor Primary". Huffington Post. 
  23. ^ John Liu 2013: Going Green & Sustainability
  24. ^ How Much Is Too Much?: Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Scientific American
  25. ^ a b c Reference A,; accessed November 4, 2014.
  26. ^ Liu, John (August 17, 2013). "Legalise marijuana, tax it – and end NYC's wrongheaded war on pot". The Guardian. Retrieved August 19, 2013. 
  27. ^ Katz, Celeste (August 4, 2013). "In Crushing Blow, NYC Campaign Finance Board Denies John Liu Millions For Mayor's Race". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 13, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b c Raymond Hernandez and David Chen, "Doubts Raised on Donations to Comptroller", New York Times, October 11, 2011.
  29. ^ William Rashbaum and David Chen, "More Liu Donors Said to Be Examined in Fund-Raising Inquiry", New York Times, December 15, 2011.
  30. ^ a b c "John Liu fundraiser Xing Wu Pan charged with campaign fraud". Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  31. ^ William Rashbaum, "Fund-Raiser for Liu is Accused of Role in Illegal Donations", New York Times, November 16, 2011.
  32. ^ Katz, Celeste. "John Liu Fundraiser Oliver Pan Busted In Sting". Daily News. Retrieved November 16, 2011. 
  33. ^ Singtao, November 17, 2011. 醇華劉逸裔主被捕. Section A1, B2.
  34. ^ Howard, Michael. "Abrams Resigns From Liu Inquiry". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  35. ^ Jonathan Dienst, John Liu Campaign Treasurer Arrested, WNBC, February 28, 2012; accessed February 28, 2012.
  36. ^ Beekman, Daniel. "John Liu's mayoral campaign fundraiser and treasurer sentenced to less than year in jail for straw donor scheme". NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. New York. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  37. ^ "State Sen. Avella beats Liu in Democratic primary", Associated Press, September 10, 2014; accessed November 4, 2014.
  38. ^ Moore, Tina; Robert Gearty (April 14, 2013). "Controller John Liu's mayoral candidacy threatened by trial of his campaign's ex-treasurer and an ex-fund-raiser". New York Daily News. New York. Retrieved August 13, 2013. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Julia Harrison
New York City Council, 20th District
Succeeded by
Peter Koo