Thursday, March 1, 2012
Asian crime: The 25-year-old campaign treasurer ensnared in the federal probe that has imperiled the political career of New York City Controller John Liu was not hung out to dry, the embattled fiscal watchdog insisted
“Jenny is a very capable young individual and she is capable as compared to anyone of any age,” a defiant Liu said of Jia (Jenny) Hou, who was arrested on sweeping federal charges of campaign finance fraud and obstruction of justice. “I’m not hanging anyone out to dry.” Yet Hou — who was paid just $27,678 by Liu’s campaign but given the important title of treasurer — was placed by the feds at the center of a conspiracy to illegally raise political contributions from big-money givers whose identities were elaborately hidden from public view through the use of straw donors. Her age and inexperience have generated the question of whether she was positioned to take a fall for higher-ups who actually engineered the scheme. The federal complaint against Hou did not accuse Liu of knowing what was going on, but hinted strongly that he was aware. Hou, a Rutgers University graduate who made just $1,375 doing work for Liu’s 2009 campaign for controller, is the daughter of a Queens businessman and close Liu pal. A well-placed source in Liu’s office said that Hou’s father, Jian Li (Peter) Hou, is likely to lean on his daughter to implicate the controller — as legal experts predict the feds will cut her a deal to cooperate against him. Contrary to Liu’s assertions, the source portrayed Hou as a fall person for Chung Seto, a top adviser to Liu’s campaign. “(Hou) seems like a nice young girl,” said the source. “Everyone knows Chung runs the show.” Hou was promoted to treasurer by Liu’s former campaign treasurer, Mei Hua Ru. As Liu’s campaign, if not his political career, appeared to be unraveling with Hou’s arrest — which followed the bust of a Liu fund-raising intermediary for campaign fraud — it was Ru who gathered about 20 controller’s office staffers for a morning pep talk. She told the incredulous group that the federal probe was a racist witch hunt, the source said. “She told them it’s all a bunch of b.s. and that they are out to get him because he’s Asian,” the source said.