Democratic Mayor Eric Adams of New York City attended over 80 events focused on Turkey, a country whose ties to Adams are the basis for an ongoing federal corruption investigation, according to documents obtained by Politico.
Adams’ top campaign fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, was the target of an FBI search warrant executed on Nov. 2 while Adams’ electronic devices were seized by the FBI sometime before Nov. 10. The investigation is focused on whether Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign received illegal campaign donations from Turkey, a country to which Adams had a close relationship while he was the borough president of Brooklyn in New York City, according to the report.
During his eight years as borough president, Adams attended over 80 events that celebrated or commemorated Turkey, many of which were hosted by Turkish businesses and industry groups, according to the report. Turkish Airlines, the country’s largest air carrier, is among the most frequently listed hosts or affiliates, which previously hosted Adams at the luxurious Metropolitan Club in Manhattan and, in 2015, reportedly paid for one of his six trips to Turkey, an in-kind gift that was allegedly omitted from his financial disclosure forms that year.
— Andrew Giambrone (@AndrewGiambrone) November 15, 2023
Upon becoming mayor, Adams appointed a Turkish Airlines executive, Cenk Öcal, the airline’s New York director, to his mayoral transition team on a committee that focused on infrastructure, according to the report.
One of Adams’ trips was also funded by the Turkish government through its consulate-general in New York City, according to multiple reports, and afforded him the opportunity to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has also frequently met Turkish diplomatic officials in the United States, notably the Turkish consul general, according to The New York Times.
In October of 2022, Adams’ chief of staff, Frank Carone, and New York City’s international affairs commissioner, Edward Mermelstein, attended a real estate conference in Istanbul to encourage Turkish investment in the city, according to the report. Adams addressed the conference virtually via television, though the engagement was left off his public schedule.
The FBI’s ongoing investigation focuses on donations made to him by KSK Construction Group, a Turkish-owned business based in Brooklyn, and Bay Atlantic University in Washington, D.C., which is owned by a Turkish businessman. Employees at both of these organizations donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Adams campaign in 2021, as did individuals at the Turken Foundation and the Turkish American National Steering Committee, which have been described as “pro-Erdogan groups” by the Times.
The investigation is also probing Adams’ role in supporting the opening of the Turkish Consulate-General in New York City in 2021, where he reportedly pressed the New York City Fire Department’s then-Commissioner, Daniel Nigro, to grant the $300 million facility a certificate of occupancy, according to Politico.
The FDNY had reportedly refused to grant the building a certificate but did so temporarily following Adams’ intervention, after which the building was formally opened by Erdogan on a visit to the United States.
Adams’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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