The race for city comptroller, to hear David Yassky and John Liu tell it, is between a liar and a sycophant.
Both held press conferences on the steps of City Hall this afternoon touting endorsements from notable Democrats. First was Yassky, who rolled out former Mayor Ed Koch to sing his praise.
“Scrupulously honest,” is how Koch referred to Yassky.
“I do believe that John Liu has shown a pattern of statements that do raise questions about playing fast and loose with the truth,” said Yassky. “We have to have a comptroller with honesty and integrity.”
He then cited what he called three examples of Liu’s factual inaccuracies: “returning campaign contributions from people who have gotten city funds from the City Council,” “statements in advertising on John Liu’s role with the M.T.A. [which] the Daily News said were untrue, and indeed, on his own background.”
Minutes later, Liu was on the City Hall steps.
“I don’t think any response is necessary,” he said, when I asked him about Yassky’s comments.
He then proceeded to give one.
Liu said he “rejected numerous contributions when in fact there could have been an appearance of a conflict of interest.” The criticism comes from a statement he made during a debate saying all contributions sent from people tied to groups he funded with money from the City Council had been returned. According to the Daily News, they had not.
“With regard to my own life story, I know my life story,” said Liu. “I have very vivid memories of working in the sweatshop as well as numerous other things in life.”
On the M.T.A. Liu also said, “You can certainly take a look at the transcript. I was the first to hold hearings on the financial discrepancies” at the agency.
Liu was joined by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, former state comptroller H. Carl McCall, and 2005 Democratic mayoral nominee, Fernando Ferrer. Each described Liu as independent, and cited his vote against the term limits extension which Mayor Michael Bloomberg strongly advocated.
“He has shown his independence by standing up to the mayor and the leadership of the Council when they tried to ram the term limits extension through the Council,” said McCall. “John Liu stood up for us and said no, this will not happen. He has demonstrated his independence.”
Gotbaum called Liu’s vote on term limits “one of the main reasons” she’s supporting him. Yassky voted to extend term limits.
“He’s independent, that also appeals to me,” said Ferrer, who referenced the term limits vote. “He could have taken the easy way route, taken a dive on term limits. He did not. He took the principled way on that issue and stood up against the power brokers.”