Scott Stringer Has Nothing to Say About John Liu Controversy

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Sam Levin
Scott Stringer at City Hall hearing today.
John Liu's latest fundraising scandal could be a boost for expected mayoral candidate Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

But Stringer isn't talking about it.

Runnin' Scared ran up to Stringer today after he testified at a City Council hearing to ask him about the latest troubles for embattled City Comptroller John Liu -- whose campaign treasurer was arrested on Tuesday and charged with fraud for a scheme of fake donors pumping money into his campaign.

Stringer didn't want to chat about it. "I'm not gonna comment," he told Runnin' Scared after we asked if he had any response to the news this week.

When we pressed him further, asking if New Yorkers should be concerned about their city's chief financial officer, Stringer repeated, "I'm not gonna comment on that. I'm here to talk about this." Then he walked away.

City Council Speaker Quinn, another mayoral hopeful, had a similar response earlier this week, repeatedly responding to reporters' questions by saying, "That's a question that Comptroller Liu is going to have to answer."

The latest blow for the comptroller came only weeks after federal officials indicted Liu fundraiser Oliver Pan for illegally funneling $16,000 into the comptroller's campaign (news which came on the eve of his state-of-the-city speech -- an attempt to move away from bad press).

It's possible that others may be implicated in the controversy, but Liu has responded that he is continuing business-as-usual and has not taken a run for mayor off the table.

After Stringer declined to opine on Liu, Runnin' Scared called up Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf to discuss the impact Liu's controversy might have on the 2013 mayoral race (Sheinkopf is not kindly disposed toward Liu to begin with, Capital notes).

Bill Thompson, former comptroller who will run for mayor in 2013 and who ran against Bloomberg last election, will gain the most from any Liu backlash, Sheinkopf said.

"From an electoral standpoint, this benefits Bill Thompson more than anyone else," he said. "It makes him the outer-borough minority candidate."

Minority votes that would've gone to Liu are most likely to be picked up by Thompson, he said, adding that Thompson is especially likely to successfully court black voters. ("Do Asian voters turn out with intensity when there's no Asian candidate? ...They haven't in the past," he added.)

Sheinkopf also noted that Stringer is becoming more of a formidable candidate, whose outspoken stance on stop-and-frisk may appeal to minority voters.

"He becomes more serious everyday he's out there," he said.

As per Liu, Sheinkopf said the city's comptroller will have to work hard to even be re-elected to his current position.

"It's hard to see [Liu] as a mayoral candidate," he said. "The issue here is, are there more arrests or indictments coming that would make it impossible for him to run for comptroller again?"

[SamTLevin / @SamTLevin]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.

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