Chinatown Civic Leader Says Cuomo Administration Grilled Him Before Astorino Visit

Rob Astorino (left) at the Ling Sing Association with Eddie Chiu (center).

Rob Astorino (left) at the Lin Sing Association with Eddie Chiu (center).

A Chinatown civic leader claimed today that a member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office interrogated him before Republican rival Rob Astorino made a campaign stop at his association’s headquarters this morning.

Eddie Chiu, the senior director of the 114-year-old Lin Sing Association, told Mr. Astorino and reporters that a person from Mr. Cuomo’s office, whom he declined to identify, called him yesterday to ask about Mr. Astorino’s planned campaign stop at the group’s headquarters. Mr. Astorino, who is mounting a long-shot bid against Mr. Cuomo, toured Lin Sing, along with several other Chinatown businesses, this morning.

“They call me, ‘Mr. Chiu, we know somebody is going to visit you tomorrow morning.’ … They’re worried about me having a big group here or all the media here,” Mr. Chiu told Mr. Astorino and several Chinatown business leaders during a round-table discussion. “It’s very strange.”

Mr. Chiu later explained that the person, whom he would only describe as a female liaison to the Chinese-American community, spoke to him for a few minutes.

“They wanted to know, ‘Are you going to endorse him?’ I said, ‘Not yet, it’s too early.’ And then [she asked,] ‘You got a lot of people, a lot of reporters?’ I said, ‘No, I’m the only guy here,” Mr. Chiu told the Observer. “They just wanted to know what I’m doing here this morning and then [if I would] endorse him or [if] a lot of people [would be here], like when de Blasio was here, we got 400 people.”

The Lin Sing Association is one of the oldest civic groups in Chinatown and a frequent campaign stop for elected officials. After he won the Democratic primary, Mr. de Blasio visited the group to receive their endorsement. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, while running for comptroller last year, also met with Lin Sing’s leaders.

Mr. Cuomo’s office contested Mr. Chiu’s version of events.

“Our office did not call this group about the event,” a Cuomo administration official said. “In a separate conversation on other issues, the head of this organization raised the event on his own with no prompting from us.”

Mr. Astorino, speaking with the Observer after his meeting with Mr. Chiu, appeared amused by the alleged phone call.

“Apparently he’s been missing in action all over the state and all of a sudden now, right before the election, he’s trying to trail everywhere I go,” Mr. Astorino said of the governor.