New York City mayor Eric Adams is currently embroiled in a federal criminal inquiry into links, including a possible straw-donor scheme, between his 2021 mayoral campaign and both Turkish nationals and Turkish government officials. Below is what we know about the investigation thus far.
What are the Feds reportedly investigating?
All we know so far, according to a search warrant executed in a raid of the home of a member of Mayor Adams’s staff, is that federal investigators are conducting a public-corruption inquiry, part of which entails probing whether or not Adams’s 2021 mayoral campaign conspired with Turkish nationals and the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign donations as part of a straw-donor scheme, as well as whether or not anyone involved in the campaign provided benefits in return for the donations. Per the New York Times:
The warrant suggested that some of the foreign campaign contributions were made as part of a straw donor scheme, where donations are made in the names of people who did not actually give money. Investigators sought evidence to support potential charges that included the theft of federal funds and conspiracy to steal federal funds, wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, as well as campaign contributions by foreign nationals and conspiracy to make such contributions.
Have any charges been filed as a result of the investigation?
No, not yet.
Has Adams been accused of any wrongdoing?
There is no indication, as of yet, that the investigation is focused on criminal activities by the mayor himself. Adams has denied any wrongdoing, has decried any potential wrongdoing involving his campaign, and has insisted he and his staff “follow the law.” He has also publicly vowed to cooperate with the inquiry.
Federal agents searched home of Adams’s fundraising chief
On the morning of Thursday, November 2, FBI agents raided the Brooklyn home of Brianna Suggs, the mayor’s chief fundraiser. The agents seized three iPhones, two laptop computers, and a variety of documents including a folder labeled “Eric Adams” and binders of contribution cards, according to the New York Times. It’s believed to be one of at least a dozen locations searched that morning simultaneously, per CNN.
Suggs was also reportedly served a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury in Manhattan.
Federal agents also seized Adams’s personal devices as part of the investigation
On the evening of Monday, November 6, FBI agents, apparently armed with a search warrant, approached Mayor Adams and seized at least three of his personal devices, including two phones and an iPad, which they then made copies of and reportedly returned to the mayor within days. It’s not clear what, if anything, they discovered on the devices.
Adams has a lot of ties to Turkey and the Turkish community going back more than a decade
Eric Adams has had interactions with Turkey-linked organizations and individuals dating back to at least 2011, when he was a Brooklyn state senator. He began developing deeper ties to New York City’s Turkish community in the run up to his 2013 campaign for Brooklyn borough president, as well as when he served in that role from 2014 through his 2021 mayoral campaign. He has boasted of having made at least six trips to Turkey; at least two of those trips were paid for by the Turkish government or other Turkish organizations, and over the years Adams has frequently hosted or attended events with Turkish nationals, Turkish American businesspeople, and members of the Turkish government.
Several of these links have received greater scrutiny in light of the federal investigation.
On November 2, federal agents also reportedly raided the offices of KSK Construction, a Brooklyn-based company founded by a Turkish national. Investigators have focused on donations made by employees of the firm during a 2021 fundraiser for Adams’s mayoral campaign. Sources tell CNN that investigators have found “records of checks and wire transfers from KSK, returning money to employees in the same amounts as the contributions.”
Investigators have also reportedly taken an interest in any ties between the Adams campaign and a Turkish-owned, D.C.-based nonprofit called Bay Atlantic University. People affiliated with the university made $10,000 in donations to Adams’s mayoral campaign that were subsequently returned.
And investigators have also reportedly examined Adams’s outreach to the New York City fire commissioner in 2021 on behalf of the Turkish consulate, which resulted in the consulate’s obtaining a temporary-occupancy permit for its new high-rise ahead of a grand opening ceremony attended by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Adams has defended the outreach as normal work on behalf of constituents.
CNN reports that the FBI is also looking into Adams’ past trips to Turkey and even searched the residence of a Turkish Airlines executive.