NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- City Comptroller John Liu wants to replace Michael Bloomberg as mayor, but will a campaign fund raising scandal derail his political career?
The comptroller is on the defense, reports CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.
They said a prayer for Liu at a Flushing senior center on Friday and by all accounts he'll need it. The federal government is scrutinizing his campaign fund raising operation. One of his top money men was busted for using bogus donors to hide massive contributions, and Liu was forced to hire a criminal attorney to represent him in the ongoing probe.
Kramer spoke with Liu on Friday.
Kramer: "There are some people who are wondering about your political viability given the fact that there's a federal investigation and that you've hired a criminal attorney. Would you like to address that?
Liu: "I'm aware that there's an investigation and we intend to fully cooperate."
But the political viability question is a real one. Liu may be the comptroller, but he is anxious to run for mayor in 2013.
Friday's visit to the senior center was just one of seven political appearances in a jam-packed 14-hour day as he doggedly pursued supporters, especially members of the Asian community. Experts say that in a crowded mayoral field Asian voters will help put him out in front. Liu pointedly signed his name in both Chinese and English in the senior center's guest book.
But it's hard to remember a candidate under the federal microscope being elected to the city's top job.
"You can't count anybody out in this business," political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said. "But you can say this: in an era when people are very, very sensitive to scandal, corruption and abuse of office how is it possible that a man under investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney can be elected mayor? It's not likely."
When asked if he's still planning to run for mayor, Liu told Kramer, "Ah, ha ha, there's been more and more talk of that."
Other than saying he was "sad" about the arrest of his money man Liu did not address specific questions about the probe. His campaign did not return calls and neither did his criminal lawyer.
Meanwhile, the former state attorney general hired by Liu to conduct an internal audit of his fundraising resigned.
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