New York City Comptroller John Liu, who has been giving strong hints he intends to run for mayor in 2013, used to be focused specifically on collecting campaign checks of exactly $800 dollars, and indeed, his previous finance reports show contributions almost exclusively in that amount. This was intended, Mr. Liu said at the time, to prove he wasn’t beholden to special interests.
However, his new fundraising report for shows only two contributions in that amount, with less contributions overall as well. Both of these trends are almost surely attributed to federal indictments against his campaign’s fundraising.
The shift in fundraising tactics doesn’t come as a surprise either. Mr. Liu announced he was changing his $800 self-imposed contribution limit after authorities arrested his fundraiser Xing Wu Pan last year for allegedly funneling large donations through straw donors in order to take advantage of the city’s campaign financing system that matches low-dollar contributions with more public funds.
Almost all of Mr. Liu’s allegedly sketchy contributions came from donors in the Asian community and the number 8 is considered lucky in Chinese culture — A New York Magazine profile of Mr. Liu’s woes was even entitled “Unlucky 800″ — but Mr. Liu clearly wasn’t happy with the association.
“And now the $800 limit on campaign contributions that I voluntarily self-imposed is being portrayed by the media as some kind of freaky Chinese thing, which I don’t know exactly how that happened,” Capital New York reported John Liu saying near the end of the last filing period. “My contributors are calling me saying, ‘Why did you do the $800? We were perfectly willing to give you much more than that.’ So at this point it’s gotten absolutely nothing but grief for my setting the contribution much lower than the maximum.”