4:09 pm Jul. 27, 20121
The departure of consultant George Arzt from John Liu's comptroller campaign seems, in hindsight, predictable.
Arzt attended a fund-raiser for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in April and told me it was for the chance to meet Scarlet Johansson.
In a three-sentence statement sent out this afternoon—presumably to lessen the attention it was bound to draw—Arzt characterized his recent work for Liu as something fleeting and temporary. (Arzt was paid a total of $37,500 by Liu's campaign, between February and June.)
"When I joined him in December, it was only supposed to be a short term assignment. I wish him the best," he said. "Representing Comptroller Liu over the last eight months has been an exciting opportunity."
The Liu assignment has been a challenging one too.
After federal prosecutors arrested one of Liu's bundlers, and then his campaign treasurer, it was Arzt who was tasked with the unenviable job of keeping Liu's political prospects afloat. He helped organize a rally in the basement of a church, packed with union members, to help show reporters that Liu, despite his troubles, very much had a fighting chance at higher office.
Arzt has been in this role before. In 2009, he worked on Liu's campaign for comptroller, during which time the candidate came under fire for saying he and his mother had worked at a sweatshop when he was younger, a characterization his mother denied.
When I asked Arzt if he planned to join Stringer's campaign, he told me he's "going to savor my time off from the rigors of campaigns."
UPDATE: Liu's top political aide Chung Seto has a notably different take on all this. In a statement to me, she wrote, "Our arrangement with Arzt Communications was a temporary month-to-month engagement. We informed him yesterday that the engagement would come to an end effective next week. We regret the way this story has been spun."