Senator Tony Avella’s campaign has condemned candidate John Liu’s recent mailer, in which he is presented as an ethics-driven candidate, despite his extensive history of flouting campaign finance laws.
The mailer acclaims Liu wants to “restore integrity and ethics in government” as one of the bullet points that he will “fight for.” Liu’s previous campaign for New York mayor in 2013 fell apart after two of his staffers were convicted of federal corruption charges and sent to prison for using straw donors to illegally funnel contributions.
Liu himself was fined $26,000 last year by the Board of Elections over the scheme and was also fined over $500,000 by the Environmental Control Board for poster violations—fines that he still has not paid for. Now 5 years later, Liu is re-entering politics again and is trying to unseat Avella in the state’s 11th district. They both are Democrats.
“Scandal-ridden John Liu’s mailer is his latest attempt to bait and switch voters from his sordid past of corruption,” said Avella campaign spokesperson Jeff Frediani on Aug. 20. “If John Liu was really interested in government integrity, he would pay back the $500,000 in fines he accumulated from the City of New York.”
Avella helped pass a law to cut pensions from public officials guilty of corruption charges. Liu did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Liu’s aides were also found to have ties to organized crime and China’s communist regime. His fundraiser, Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, was executive vice chairman of the Fukien American Association that organizes events for visiting officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Chinatown. It is also associated with the Fuk Ching gang.
Liu has been a long-time supporter of congestion pricing, a fee system where people are charged more to enter certain heavy traffic zones during peak times. The revenue from this proposed system would then be put into repairs, such as New York’s crippling MTA subway system.
But days ago, Avella’s campaign criticized Liu for his support of the idea, arguing it would raise the fees and tolls for Queens residents.
Under the congestion pricing plan, drivers entering Manhattan from Northeast Queens would be charged $11.52 during peak hours for entering congestion Zones in Manhattan. This totals to about an additional $60 a week for the daily commute to work.
“John Liu should be ashamed of himself for supporting congestion pricing,” Frediani said on Aug. 15. “The people of the 11th Senate District have been nickel and dimed for far too long while living in a transit desert.”
“If scandal-ridden John Liu wants to help pay for the MTA, he can start by paying back the $500,000 in poster violations he still owes the City of New York.”