The federal government is conducting a broad corruption probe into the 2021 campaign of New York City Mayor Eric Adams. The focus: Determining if his campaign plotted with the Turkish government to bypass campaign laws and funnel foreign cash into the campaign through the use of “straw donors” — that is, through the names of other people or entities who may otherwise legally make contributions.
Thursday morning brought the jarring first public indicator of the investigation, as federal agents raided the home of Brianna Suggs, the principal fundraiser of the 2021 campaign. The New York Times, which obtained a copy of the search warrant and broke the news of the focus on Turkey, reports that agents seized phones, computers, papers and binders.
Adams hasn’t been accused of any illegal conduct — not yet, anyhow. At the time of the raid, Adams was in Washington DC for several meetings with senior White House officials, federal legislators and others. When he learned about the raid on his fundraiser’s home, he cancelled them all and rushed back to New York.
“I hold my campaign to the highest ethical standards,” said Adams at an event Thursday night. “Any inquiry that is done, we are going to fully participate and make sure that it’s done correctly. I have not been contacted by anyone from any law enforcement agency. And that’s why I came back from D.C. to be here, to be on the ground and look at this inquiry as it was made.”
Among the documents sought by investigators were those relating to Bay Atlantic University. The Times describes it as “a tiny Turkish-owned institution that opened in Washington, D.C., in 2014. In 2015, Adams visited its sister school in Turkey.
In addition to Suggs — who is just 25 years old — the investigation also involves a Brooklyn construction company: KSK Construction Group, which specializes in luxury New York City condo projects. It’s not clear what role the company may have allegedly played in funneling money from the Turkish government. Further, there’s been no reporting on Turkey’s potential motive for securing his election.
The federal probe isn’t the first criminal inquiry into Adams’ campaign: Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg indicted six people in July, charging them with conspiring to funnel illegal foreign money into the campaign’s coffers. On top of that, Adams’ former senior advisor was indicted by Bragg on 16 felony charges — among them, accusations of taking bribes.
Adams is up for reelection in 2025, and the swarm of investigations is chumming the waters for challengers who sense growing vulnerability. Republican Curtis Sliwa had already announced his intent to take on Adams again. When Politico asked him about his 2025 plans in light of the Thursday’s federal raid, Sliwa said, “He may be in the Big House by then. Not the White House like he hoped for.”
In an era in which Democrats are credibly accused of weaponizing federal law enforcement against political adversaries, it’s worth nothing that Adams has been a gadfly of the Biden administration, frequently and pointedly condemning its negligence in the face of a migrant crisis that has overwhelmed New York City.
Indeed, on the very morning of the federal raid, that’s what he was in Washington to talk about:
On my way to DC to join my fellow mayors to talk with our federal partners about the asylum seeker crisis. Follow along throughout the day. pic.twitter.com/K6bvwP4gwQ
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) November 2, 2023