Disgraced former New York City mayoral candidate John Liu is attempting a political comeback, with the support of hard-left radical activists and a progressive organization called the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, founded by socialist Islamist Linda Sarsour.
Liu previously declared himself as a candidate in the 2013 New York City mayoral election but was dogged by a scandal from his 2011 comptroller election campaign.
Liu served as the 43rd New York City Comptroller from Jan. 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2013. While Liu quickly raised more than $1 million dollars in campaign donations in the first half of 2011, suspicions grew as to some of its origin. In an Oct. 11, 2011, front-page story, the New York Times reported that its investigation of Liu’s donors had uncovered some “irregularities.”
It stated: “Canvassing by The New York Times of nearly 100 homes and workplaces of donors listed on Mr. Liu’s campaign finance reports raises questions about the source and legitimacy of some donations, as well as whether some of the donors even exist. Some two dozen irregularities were uncovered, including instances in which people listed as having given to Mr. Liu say they never gave, say a boss or other Liu supporter gave for them, or could not be found altogether.”
Liu was closely involved with Asian Americans for Equality, a very wealthy New York City “community organization” that had its roots in the Pro-China Communist Workers Party.
According to sources, it was common practice for New York-based Chinese diplomatic staff to organize fundraising banquets for favored leftist candidates. Since it was illegal for Chinese authorities to donate to American candidates, a workaround was arranged. Hundreds of low-income Chinese-Americans would be invited to lavish dinners and handed packets of money by Chinese government agents. This money then would be passed on to the candidate.
It was strongly suspected in Chinatown that at least some of Liu’s campaign donation money came from Chinese sources through pro-China business people.
Two Liu staffers were jailed after an FBI sting in which government agents offered to make over-the-limit donations to Liu’s campaign. Liu’s staffers took the money and illegally donated it by dividing it into smaller amounts in the names of fictitious individuals.
These revelations dogged Liu’s mayoral campaign, and a once-top-tier candidate ending up running a disappointing fourth place in the Democratic primary.
In September 2014, Liu lost a Democratic primary race for a state Senate seat to incumbent Tony Avella by just 800 votes. Avella had angered “progressive” Democrats by joining the renegade Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), which worked closely with Republican state senators.
Bruised and bloodied, Liu rejoined Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and also began a teaching position at Baruch College.
Working With the Hard Left
But now Liu is back, this time working with the hard left and Islamic socialist Democrats in another attempt to unseat Tony Avella. Progressive Democrats have vowed to unseat the IDC, despite a pledge by the group to rejoin the main body of Senate Democrats and end its alliance with Republicans.
Avella had been the only IDC senator to escape a “progressive” challenger until activist group True Blue NY recruited Liu at the last minute. One mainstay of True Blue NY is the activist group Rise and Resist, which also endorsed Liu.
Rise and Resist made headlines at a July 4 protest against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when one of its members, Congolese immigrant Patricia Okoumou, climbed the Statue of Liberty.
Joy Reid of MSNBC interviewed Okoumou and fellow Rise and Resist protester Jay W. Walker after the event. Neither Reid nor any other mainstream media outlet mentioned that both activists were tied to Refuse Fascism, a front group for the Maoist-extremist organization known as the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Liu also has been endorsed by the Muslim Democratic Club of New York. Founded in a Midtown lounge in March 2013, Democratic Socialists of America member Linda Sarsour’s Muslim Democratic Club of New York has been more leftist than Islamic in outlook.
At the founding, which was attended by then-mayoral candidate Liu, co-founders Ali Najmi (later a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter) and Sarsour gave a PowerPoint presentation on the untapped voting strength of Muslim Democrats in the city, especially in Queens and Brooklyn, where Muslims live in comparatively high numbers.
While the ultimate goal of the club was to build a field operation powerful enough to influence elections throughout New York City, the Muslim Democratic Club of New York also focused on ending NYPD surveillance of Muslim communities, a goal that was accomplished in April this year. Sarsour’s organization additionally pushed for the inclusion of Muslim holidays on the public-school calendar, which occurred in March 2015.
In March 2013, the Observer reported that Liu was a “vociferous critic of the NYPD”. It states:
“I think more than any other community, the Muslim community has some very severe challenges and important issues the city has to deal with,” Liu said. “We have ongoing issues of surveillance of people just because of their religious faith- that’s not right, we should put an end to that. Kids and families have to choose between going to school and observing important holidays in the Muslim faith- that has to change also.”
Muslim Democratic Club leaders have included Murad Awawdeh, an affiliate of the South Brooklyn chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America; Debbie Almontaser, an occasional panelist with the DSA-initiated Left Forum; and at least one affiliate of the Maoist-leaning Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee.
Liu has learned little from his past defeats and humiliations. He is still working with the hard left, seeking to gain political power.