City Comptroller John Liu should stop signing his name to meaningless proclamations celebrating his friends and instead sign something that actually would be significant: his letter of resignation.
Mr. Liu has been an embarrassment since winning the 2009 comptroller’s race. His carefully staged and utterly ineffective opposition to Mayor Bloomberg early on in his term has given way to a serious scandal involving his campaign fund-raising. Mr. Liu continues to stonewall questions about the identity of his so-called bundlers, people who organize large groups of individual donors. He is required by law to make those names public, but thus far he merely has promised to do so at some point in the future.
Convinced, apparently, that the fund-raising scandal is a mere distraction—although it has prompted a full-fledged federal investigation—Mr. Liu has been conducting business as usual as he continues to prepare for a mayoral campaign in 2013. He ended a much-publicized voluntary cap of $800 on individual donations, no doubt because the scandal has frightened off would-be donors. And most recently, The New York Times reported that Mr. Liu routinely uses government resources to issue silly proclamations attesting to the worthiness of his friends and contributors.
On one level, Mr. Liu has become a political laughingstock, someone who is impossible to take seriously. But on another level, there is nothing funny about his breathtaking arrogance. He continues to act, and raise funds, as if nothing were wrong. He apparently still believes that he will be a candidate for mayor or for re-election in 2013.
In fact, not only has he forfeited any claim to civic leadership, he has stained the office he currently holds. He was never a particularly effective elected official, but now the fund-raising scandal and his cavalier response to it has stripped him of every last bit of credibility.
He needs to quit, now, and let the vital office of the comptroller pass into more capable, more serious hands. Mr. Liu’s duties include oversight of the city’s books. In light of his campaign’s scandalous bookkeeping, Mr. Liu’s continued presence as the city’s chief financial officer is simply unacceptable.
Mr. Liu, it’s time to go.