the mayor canceled his visit to Washington because of this
The home of fundraising chief Eric Adams was raided as part of an investigation into whether foreign money was pouring into his mayoral campaign. Federal prosecutors and the FBI are conducting a wide-ranging corruption investigation to determine whether Mayor Eric Adams conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign donations during his 2021 reelection campaign, according to a search warrant. The New York Times reports more on this.
This investigation became public on Thursday, November 2, when federal agents conducted an early morning raid in a Brooklyn home Brianna Suggs, a campaign consultant who is closely involved with efforts to advance the mayor’s agenda.
Investigators were looking, among other things, into the possible involvement of a Brooklyn construction company with close ties to Turkey and a small university in Washington also linked to Adams.
According to the search warrant, investigators were trying to determine whether the mayor’s re-election campaign provided benefits to officials and employees of the construction company, as well as Turkish officials.
Agents seized three iPhones, two laptop computers, as well as documents and other evidence, including a “Manila folder labeled Eric Adams,” seven “contribution card folders,” and other materials.
Plans changed dramatically
There was no indication that the investigation was targeting the mayor, but the raid forced him to abruptly cancel several meetings planned in Washington, where he had planned to speak to White House officials and members of Congress about the migrant crisis. Instead, he hastily returned to New York “to resolve an issue,” the mayor’s press secretary said.
On the subject: Eric Adams’ tax returns published: how much money does the mayor of New York have?
At the Día de Muertos celebration at Gracie Mansion on Thursday, Nov. 2, Adams defended his campaign and said he held himself to the “highest ethical standards.”
He said he had not been contacted by law enforcement officials but promised to cooperate in any investigation. He explained the sudden change in plans and cancellation of meetings by saying that he returned from Washington to be “on the spot” and “see this investigation” as it unfolds.
Friendship with Turkey
The arrest warrant suggests that some foreign campaign contributions are made as part of a “straw donor” scheme, where donations are made on behalf of people who did not actually give the money. Investigators were looking for evidence to support possible charges, including theft of federal funds and conspiracy to steal federal funds, wire fraud, and foreign campaign contributions and conspiracy to make such contributions.
Adams has repeatedly boasted of his ties to Turkey. The mayor said that in the history of New York, perhaps, there was not a single mayor who visited Turkey as often as he did.
“I think this is my sixth or seventh visit,” he said. At least one of these visits took place while Adams was president of Brooklyn, and the tour was sponsored by the Turkish government.
Where does the money come from?
Suggs is an important cog in Adams’ fundraising machine, which has already raised more than $2.5 million for his 2025 re-election campaign.
Agents from one of the FBI’s New York City government corruption squads questioned Suggs during a search of her home, according to a person with knowledge of the raid. Agents served Adams’ campaign consultant with a subpoena ordering her to testify before a federal jury.
The warrant identifies the Brooklyn construction company as KSK Construction Group. Individuals listing KSK as their employer have donated about $14,000 to Adams’ 2021 reelection campaign, according to campaign finance records. A company employee who answered the phone declined to comment.
Charles Kretschmer Lutwack, a spokesman for Adams, said Suggs does not work for City Hall and referred calls to the mayor’s campaign.
“The campaign has always held itself to the highest standards,” said Vito Pitta, a lawyer representing Adams’ 2021 and 2025 campaigns. “Of course, the campaign will respond to any requests in due course.” He made a final note that Mayor Adams had not been contacted as part of this investigation.
The search warrant requested:
- financial records of Brianna Suggs and all of her controlled or related entities;
- documents related to 2021 mayoral campaign contributions;
- travel records to Turkey for any campaign employee, official or assistant;
- documents relating to interactions between the campaign and the Turkish government, “including persons acting at the direction of the Turkish government.”
Investigators pointed to documents related to Bay Atlantic University, a tiny Turkish educational institution that opened in Washington in 2014. In 2015, Adams visited one of its sister universities in Istanbul, where he was presented with various certificates and informed that a scholarship would be established in his name.
The search warrant also identified electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops or tablets, that Suggs was using.
Fundraising under scrutiny
Suggs, 25, is the latest in a string of people linked to Adams who have attracted law enforcement interest, including several linked to the mayor’s fundraising efforts.
In September, Eric Ulrich, a former building commissioner and senior adviser to Adams, was charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg with 16 felonies, including conspiracy and bribery charges. Ulrich, along with three other defendants, helped organize Adams’ 2021 fundraiser.
In July, Bragg indicted six people, including a retired police inspector who once worked and associated with Adams, with conspiring to make illegal donations to the mayor’s 2021 campaign.
The Department of Investigation is looking into, among other things, the role of one of the mayor’s aides in a violent brawl that took place last month at a migrant detention center in Manhattan.
Adams tried to distance himself from these investigations by claiming that he had a limited understanding of the events that led to them. However, an investigation into such a close and long-time adviser may be more difficult to keep at bay.
Who is Brianna Suggs
Over the past two years, Adams’ campaign has paid Suggs about $100,000 for fundraising and campaign consulting services through her company, Suggs Solutions, according to city documents. During Adams’ first campaign, she was paid more than $50,000.
Suggs is also registered as a lobbyist. East Broadway Mall, a Chinatown real estate company, hired Suggs through an intermediary to lobby City Hall and the City Council in 2022, according to state documents.
She served as Adams’ assistant when he was president of Brooklyn and is especially close to Ingrid Lewis-Martin, who was his deputy at the time and is now his chief adviser.
Suggs has been active in outside efforts to advance the mayor’s agenda. The political action committee of one of the mayor’s key allies, Striving for a Better New York, which has pledged to support state candidates aligned with Adams on policy issues, paid Suggs about $100,000.
On his LinkedIn page, Suggs lists as a client the Brooklyn Democratic Party, which has close ties to Adams.
Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelin, the assembly member who leads the Brooklyn party, said Suggs was a volunteer fundraiser who did most of the logistics. She said she was surprised when she learned about the FBI raid. “What I know about Brianna Suggs is that she is a bright young woman. In my opinion, she is a very honest and organized person. She is very gentle, very professional,” Hermelin told Bichotte. “She knows the rules.”
What really happened
Adams’ decision to cancel high-level meetings with senior White House officials on an issue he warned would devastate New York’s budget and destroy the city speaks to an unusual level of urgency.
The White House was apparently surprised by the news. According to a White House spokesman, on the morning of Thursday, November 2, the mayor’s office informed them that the meeting was cancelled. “I can’t talk about his schedule or why he was unable to attend the meeting,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary.
The mayor was scheduled to meet with congressional representatives along with Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Denver Mayor Mike Johnston.
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
At 7:41 a.m. on Thursday, November 2, Adams posted a video that showed him sitting on board the plane. The mayor promised to keep the public informed of developments throughout the day, but after the meetings were canceled, city hall officials did not explain the reason. They stated that the meetings would be rescheduled for another day.
By 8 a.m. Thursday, there were about 10 agents stationed on the block where Suggs lives. One of them was wearing a light green tactical vest with “FBI” written on the back. Another employee was leaving the apartment with a cardboard box.
Suggs stood on the porch with her father as agents searched her home, neighbor Christopher Barwell said. “Whatever it is, she must have been deceived because she is a wonderful woman,” Burwell said. “I’ve known her all my life.”