“It’s not a crazy theory.”
That was Flushing Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Meng’s response to a question posed to her by the Queens Chronicle earlier this week during a sit-down interview that focused on her race for Congress against City Councilman Dan Halloran, the Whitestone Republican.
The question asked her opinion of an idea floating in political circles that says the federal government is really seeking bigger fish in its case against her father, Jimmy Meng, a former assemblyman allegedly caught red-handed taking an $80,000 bribe for influence peddling — the bigger fish being City Comptroller John Liu. The idea is that the elder Meng may know something that would help make a case against Liu, whose campaign treasurer, Jia “Jenny” Hou, is under indictment for allegedly using straw donors to beef up his war chest for a mayoral run and lying about it to the FBI.
Liu fundraiser Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan was also indicted, but the comptroller himself — who still refuses to pay the city half a million dollars in fines for posting illegal campaign signs — has not been charged.
Grace Meng noted that her father and Liu are not exactly political allies, and that anyone who thinks they might be just doesn’t know much about “Asian politics” in Flushing. But that doesn’t mean Jimmy Meng might not have damaging information on Liu, and Meng repeated the statement, “It’s not a crazy theory,” before the conversation moved on to other topics.
She also said the case against her father is “one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through,” that she was “shocked” when she heard about it — while out with her kids at Chuck E. Cheese — and that she “just wanted to make sure he was emotionally OK.” She said people sometimes ask her about the case as she campaigns, but that it’s not necessarily hurting her run for the House.
“If anything, community members have been very sympathetic and come out strong in their support,” she said.
Former Councilwoman Melinda Katz announced this week that she’s running for borough president next year and held her first fundraiser, interestingly hosted by the Queens Democratic Party leader, Rep. Joe Crowley. Her run is no surprise. Since leaving the council after making a failed bid for comptroller, Katz has been working at a white-shoe law firm in Manhattan, and, no doubt, keeping in touch with her backers in the business community. Critics say she’s too tight with builders making bundles of money off the overdevelopment of Queens, but they say the same about Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and she’s still the leading candidate for mayor.
Katz brings an indirect touch of celebrity power to the field of possible borough president contenders. Her life partner is crime-fighting radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa, revealed just this year as the father of her two children. Opposites attract, people might say as they consider how Sliwa, the rough-and-tumble Guardian Angels founder and multiple gunshot survivor with as much street cred as 50 Cent, got together with Katz, the elegant and well-to-do attorney and concert pianist whose father founded the Queens Symphony Orchestra. One also might wonder if he’s had a conservative influence on her politics.
Other likely or possible contenders for the seat, all Democrats, include state Assemblyman JosÈ Peralta of East Elmhurst, who’s made fighting the sex trade a top priority; Astoria Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., the Public Safety Committee chairman, motorcyclist and gym rat whose views on crime are often much like Sliwa’s; Councilman Leroy Comrie of St. Albans, the leader of the Queens delegation and one of a relative few lawmakers in the greater Jamaica area not touched by one scandal or another; and state Sen. Tony Avella of Bayside, an independent thinker never afraid to speak his mind no matter who he ticks off.
No Republican sacrificial lamb has stepped forward yet. But with this crew in the running, there’s no need for one to make for a very interesting race.
The Oct. 18 debate between Democratic state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. and Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich has been bumped up by a half hour. It now will start at 7 p.m., at Ave Maria Academy, formerly Our Lady of Grace School, located at 158-20 101 St. in Howard Beach. You’re invited!