City Comptroller John Liu refunded more than $14,000 worth of contributions implicated in the straw donor scheme that has overshadowed his campaign, new campaign filings show.
Mr. Liu, whose former treasurer and a fund-raiser were found guilty earlier this month on federal campaign finance fraud charges, returned 29 contributions, which ranged from $50 to $1,000, the filings show.
While several were returned for other reasons, the vast majority were implicated during the trail as suspected straw donations, Mr. Liu’s campaign lawyer, Martin Connor, said.
“They were all the ones mentioned,” Mr. Connor explained. He said the campaign believed that it had returned all of the suspect contributions, but is still going through its records trying to find donors that may have been vaguely referenced to during the trial, trying to find out who they are.
Mr. Liu, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, has insisted that his campaign had no way of knowing about the straw donor scheme, even though an aide admitted to offering to reimburse donors on the stand.
“No campaign could defend themselves against an undercover operation that deceived their way into my campaign, getting my folks to think that those contributions were legitimate. And that’s in fact what happened,” he recently said on NY1. “We thought those contributions were legitimate. It turned out otherwise. But there was no way we could tell.”
The filings also show that Mr. Liu has continued to shell out big money on lawyers’ fees, paying Mr. Connor, for instance, more than $14,000. He also paid more than $57,000 on radio ads to a company called GMMB Inc. and $20,300 for a fund-raising video, the filings show.
Mr. Liu raised just under $121,000 during the latest period, with large contributions from the New York State Laborers’ PAC and the Civil Service Technical Guild.
Mr. Connor said the returns were insignificant in the context of the overall amount raised by the campaign.