(The Center Square) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines for alleged violations of state campaign finance laws involving his 2022 inaugural fund.
- By Christian Wade | The Center Square contributor
- March 16th, 2023
The New York City’s Campaign Finance Board accuses Adams inaugural committee of accepting prohibited contributions, failing to respond to the board’s requests for information and documentation, and failing to shut down the fund after he was sworn into office, as required by campaign finance law.
At a hearing Wednesday, the board’s lawyers argued Adams should face hefty fines for the violations, which include accepting money from companies that have business before the city. The board didn’t disclose the total amount of proposed fines, but under the city’s guidelines they could range from $20,000 to $50,000 per violation.
Bethany Perskie, the board’s general counsel, said at Wednesday’s hearing that her office sent multiple letters and warnings to the mayor’s fund, but said “there was no response” to the board’s allegations.
Ardian Tagani, Adam’s attorney, told board members the inaugural campaign has refunded the prohibited donations. He suggested the recommended fines are “entirely excessive and overly punitive” given the questionable contributions represented only “a fraction” of the $1.9 million collected by the inaugural fund.
Ultimately, the board agreed on Wednesday to give Adams’ attorneys more time to provide additional information on the contributions before issuing any fines or penalties.
New York City has strict rules on how much money elected officials and political candidates can accept from individual donors and what that money can be spent on. Candidates are prohibited from accepting contributions from corporations, LLCs, and partnerships. The rules also restrict contributions from companies doing business with the city.
Donations to Adams’ $1.9 million inaugural fund included money from real estate developers MaryAnne Gilmartin and hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones, Mets owner Steve Cohen and his wife Alex Cohen, both of whom maxed out the $5,100 contribution limit to the committee.
Adams, who took office on Jan. 1, 2022, ultimately canceled his inauguration ceremonies as the city battled a winter surge in COVID-19 cases and returned more than $866,000 in funds to contributors.
But his inaugural committee spent $1.7 million on consulting and attorney fees, payroll and other expenditures for the two-month period after the election, according to campaign finance filings.
Adams wouldn’t be the first New York City mayor to be slapped with fines by the city’s campaign finance board for alleged violations.
In 2012, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was accused of violating the board’s rule when he gave $1.2 million to the Independence Party, which later donated the money to his campaign. Bloomberg, who spent more than $100 million of his own money to win the 2009 mayoral race, didn’t report the $1.2 million donation to the state’s election board.
And in 2016, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio was fined nearly $48,000 for “improper spending” and other campaign finance violations during the 2013 mayoral race.