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CFB Response, July 31, 2013

CFB Response, July 31, 2013

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CFB Response
CFB Response

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Published by: Susannah Lee Griffee on Aug 05, 2013
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11/05/2013

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MARTIN E. CONNOR 
Counselor at Law61 Pierrepont Street, #71Brooklyn, New York 11201
 
Telephone: 718-875-1010
 
Fax : 718-875-6044
 
e-mail: sendem1@aol.com
By Hand Delivery
 July 31, 2013Ms. Peri HorowitzDirector of Campaign Finance Administration New York City Campaign Finance Board40 Rector Street New York, New York 10006
Re: John Liu 2013 Campaign (“the Campaign”)
 Dear Ms. Horowitz:I am writing in response to your letter of Friday, July 19, 2013 which was delivered tomy office very late that afternoon and was accompanied by 1,751 Invalid Matching ClaimsReports covering the period from December 2010 through July 15, 2013 (Statement Numbers 2through 8) as well as the 105 page Report of Thacher Associates
(“Thacher Report”)
withexhibits thereto.Frankly, it is more than unfair that you gave the Campaign a mere eight business days torespond to such a voluminous amount of documentation. This is especially so when every other campaign was given Invalid Matching Claims after every Statement as provided in the Rules of the New York City Campaign Finance Board
(“the CFB”)
. Thus, the other campaigns wereafforded periods totaling 32 months to reply to Invalid Matching Claims Reports and correctinformation respecting the matching claims. That the Campaign has been given only eight business days to do so must be taken as evidence of the CFB staff 
’s intent
to deny the Campaigna fair opportunity to make its case for matching funds to the Board.You have referenced your letter of May 20, 2013. The peremptory nature of that letter aswell as the fact that you told me in our telephone conversation on May 29 that you had other negative information about the Campaign that you could not reveal left me with nothing to whichI could fairly reply. The fact that the Campaign had not received Matching Claims Reports for two and a half years was further reason not to write. It is impossible to defend againstinformation that is being kept secret.
 
2
SUMMARY OF THE CAMPAIGN
 The Campaign has received funds from 6,339 contributors, 6,259 of whom areindividuals as opposed to labor organizations or PACs. The Campaign has no funds whatsoever from people doing business with the City or people seeking to do business with theComptroller 
s Office.The average contribution is $535. The Campaign has the largest percentage of smalldonors among all the candidates for Mayor. Thus, the Campaign best exemplifies the policy of the NYC public financing program of empowering small donors and creating ethnic andgeographic diversity in the pool of contributors to New York political campaigns.Straw donorsThe arrest of 
Xing Wu “
Oliver 
Pan, testimony in the trial of Pan and former treasurer Jia
Jenny
Hou, and the Thacher Report interviews revealed a total of 35 donors reimbursed bysomeone else, all of whose contributions were refunded immediately upon the Campaignlearning about those circumstances.. In all the trial testimony and the admissions made to theThacher investigators, not a single word was ever spoken suggesting that the candidate or anyoneworking for the Campaign as staff or full-time volunteer ever knew of any of these straw donors.Indeed, those who testified at the trial said they took great care to hide their reimbursementsfrom the Campaign.
YOUR ACCUSATIONS AGAINST CAMPAIGN STAFF
In your letter you cite as one of the reasons for your recommendation that matching funds be denied to the Campaign the fact that the Campaign employs Mei Hua Ru, Chung Seto andSharon Lee. Such a blanket condemnation of these individuals is totally unwarranted.Mei Hua RuThere is no doubt that Mei Hua Ru played a significant role in fundraising for thecampaign from the beginning of the effort for 2013. Her status was as a full time volunteer sinceshe spent in excess of 35 hours a week on the campaign. Of course, as a fulltime volunteer shewas not an intermediary for any contributions solicited or received by her. More recently, she became a paid staff member of the campaign. Not a single statement or document has been produced that even suggests that Ms. Ruwas involved with, or aware of, any violation of law or existence of straw donors. Neither thetestimony at the trial of Mr. Pan and Ms. Hou nor the Thacher Report contains any assertion thatanyone ever made Ms. Ru aware of any contributor being reimbursed for his/her contribution.The fact that Ms. Ru was acquainted with Mr. Pan and met with the FBI undercover agent is not evidence of any wrongdoing on her part. Indeed, (i) the fact that she was recorded bythe undercover agent and (ii) the publicly known fact that her telephone was tapped by the FBI
 
3for eighteen months, and yet no charges have ever been made against her, demonstrates that shedid not engage in any wrongdoing.Frankly, your citing her continuing work for the campaign as somehow worthy of denying the campaign of 
matching funds is an outrageous example of using “guilt byassociation” that is unworthy of a public officer and a public agency.
 Chung Seto
Your letter also singles out Chung Seto’s
ongoing role in the campaign due to her role asan intermediary for several problematic contributions discussed in the Thacher Report. The factis that Ms. Seto had no contact whatsoever with anyone at [a law firm].For fundraising events Ms. Seto helped organize, she used her own fax number on theinvitation. The invitations and contribution forms were widely distributed by the hosts of events,other people and campaign staff. A number of contributors submitted credit card contributions byfaxing the forms to the number listed thereon. Ms. Seto then delivered these contributions to thetreasurer.Since during that time period Ms. Seto was not retained by the campaign as a consultant,
 by virtue of such delivery she became an “intermediary” for a number 
of contributions (includingthose by the [law firm] people by operation of CFB Rules. This was notwithstanding the fact thatshe neither solicited the contributions nor knew the contributors.Apart from the [law firm] situation, discussed further 
infra
, there is no basis whatsoever 
for your assertion that Ms. Seto’s role in the campaign justifies the negative inference you are
drawing.Sharon LeeMs. Lee was a part-time volunteer for the campaign in 2011 and 2012. Her role in theCamp
aign’s
fundraising operations in 2011 primarily consisted of assisting the then-treasurer,Ms. Hou, with data entry. In her testimony at the federal trial earlier this year, Ms. Lee stated thatshe had called several family and friends in 2011 and asked them to contribute to the Campaign.She acknowledged offering to reimburse some of them. They all lived outside the State of NewYork. According to
news reports, Ms. Lee testified that she did not know “how bad it was tomake the offer” in lieu of actually reimbursing any c
ontribution.Her mother did contribute. However, she was not reimbursed. Of course, the contributionwas not matchable since it was from a California resident.Based on her contrition for this one mistaken idea that never materialized as well as her competency and experience, Ms. Lee was hired by the campaign on April 1, 2013 to handle pressrelations and related matters.

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