Lawyer helping Comptroller Liu investigate campaign records quits
City Comptroller and aspiring mayoral contender John Liu can't seem to catch a break: The independent lawyer he hired to vet his questionable campaign records resigned in a huff Thursday.
Robert Abrams, a former New York state attorney general, said in a letter to lawyers for Liu and his campaign that he was unhappy having to shelve his investigation while the feds conduct their own probe.
"Your request that I suspend my work on this matter is untenable, as it compromises my independence, and my ability to do a thorough and effective job," Abrams wrote, adding that the federal government had not asked him to do so.
Abrams' departure comes a day after federal authorities arrested Xing Wu Pan, a New Jersey businessman, on charges related to illegal fundraising on behalf of Liu's campaign. Liu himself was not implicated in the alleged crime, and said Wednesday his campaign "was not told the truth" if the accusations against Pan are correct.
Liu's 2013 campaign was also in the spotlight last month, after the New York Times reported some people listed as donors denied ever giving money to the comptroller or could not be verified. Liu later hired Abrams -- at reportedly a cost of more than $900 per hour -- to review the campaign's finances for any violations.
"It really doesn't make sense to have two investigations to be going on at once, and it's terribly expensive," said Martin Connor, the lawyer for the Friends of John Liu campaign committee.
Any impropriety could ultimately derail Liu's prospects of seeking higher office or even holding onto his current job as the city's top fiscal watchdog, political observers say.