City Comptroller John Liu's mayoral campaign was rocked by the arrest of campaign treasurer today. The NY Times reports, "The treasurer, Jia Hou, faces charges of fraud and obstruction of justice for what federal prosecutors say was her role in funneling illegal campaign money to Mr. Liu by using straw, or phony, donors." Last year, one of his fundraisers was also arrested for straw donations.
Donations from individuals are limited to $4,950 each; according to the Post, "Hou, 25, was allegedly caught offering to reimburse a crooked donation during a series of computer 'instant messages' on July 14, and allegedly instructed campaign volunteers on how to make the contributions look legit." One of Hou's messages said, "Don’t worry about it. I’m gonna mail it to [individual’s residence]. Whenever you get a chance though, I need [you to] sign that form and send it back to me cus [because] I can’t charge your card without a signature."
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, "New York’s campaign finance laws are not optional" and called Hou "was a central figure in a coordinated scheme to break the city’s campaign finance laws." Hou's lawyer said she would contest the charges, “She is a wonderful young woman, an idealist."
Liu still says he's still planing on running for mayor.