Chinese Community Shocked by Arrest of ‘Big Brother Meng’

Assemblymember Grace Meng (left) and her father, former Assemblymember Jimmy Meng (right), in this photo from 2006. Many in the Chinese community hope that allegations against Jimmy Meng will not affect his daughter’s chances in November for a congressional seat. (Photo via Queens Courier)

Last week’s arrest of former Queens Assemblyman Jimmy Meng has saddened and angered many Chinese-Americans who are still struggling to digest the allegations of campaign finance improprieties against another Chinese-American politician, John Liu, The World Journal reported. Some suspect that the political operator and neighborhood facilitator that they knew as “Big Brother Meng” was victimized because of his race, and they worry that the scandal will hurt Meng’s daughter, the Assemblywoman and Congressional candidate Grace Meng.

Jimmy Meng stands accused of convincing a state court defendant to bribe prosecutors for $80,000 and then keeping the money for himself, the Queens Courier reported.

Meng allegedly promised the defendant — who sought the former elected official’s help after being charged with state tax crimes — that his sentence would be reduced to one year if he paid prosecutors $20,000 each in bribes, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Federal prosecutors said Meng offered to be the middle man, instructing the individual to conceal and deliver the $80,000 payout in a fruit basket. The government investigation, however, uncovered no evidence the past politician even contacted prosecutors, and officials said Meng planned to keep the bribe money for himself.

Meng is accused of accepting the fruit basket, which contained thousands in cash, on Tuesday.

Many Chinese-Americans worried that the arrest of the New York State Assembly’s first Asian-American member will derail his daughter’s campaign ahead of the November election, reported The World Journal‘s Luna Liu. An excerpt from her article is translated below.

Peter Tu of the Flushing Chinese Business Association used the word “heartbroken” to describe his sentiments. According to him, many Flushing supporters had put in a lot of effort to help Grace Meng win the primary.  In a short amount of time, they were able to raise $700,000 to $800,000 for her campaign.  If this incident leads to the end of her political career, how will her supporters take such a blow?

City Councilman Peter Koo said he is saddened by the news.  Grace Meng’s win at the primary was initially seen as happy news, but things are getting complicated now and some of [Jimmy Meng’s] friends are so upset that they nearly cried.

Hugh Mo, who is a senior criminal lawyer, said that as a longtime friend of Jimmy Meng, he was shocked by the news.  He hopes to see evidence countering the bribery claims come out, and also hopes that this incident will not affect Grace Meng.  Many others interviewed have said that a father’s actions have nothing to do with his daughter.  They hope that everybody will still continue to support Grace Meng without letting the incident influence them.

Some saw Meng’s arrest as another setback for Chinese political ambitions, coming on the heels of the investigation into John Liu’s campaign finances. With the community still reeling from the allegations against the city’s first Asian-American comptroller, some argue that Chinese-American politicians are deliberately being put on the chopping board.

One member of the community, who did want to give his name, believes that someone is trying to frame Jimmy Meng in order to attack Chinese political participation, similar to what happened to John Liu.  He said that Jimmy Meng had helped him resolve business-related troubles and had never asked for money in return.

On the other hand, some said that despite political connections rumored to reach the White House, Jimmy Meng’s past behavior had already drawn suspicion.

There are many others, who also did not wish to give their names, who said that it was only a matter of time before Jimmy Meng got arrested. According to sources, he has been in a grey area for a long time.

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