A federal probe is reportedly looking into whether Adams intervened with the Fire Department to open a new consulate building on time for a visit by Turkish President Erdogan.
By Katie Honan
- Republished with Permission: The Roosevelt Island Daily News
Mayor Eric Adams railed against leaks coming from federal authorities as investigators are reportedly looking into whether he pressured senior fire department officials to help open the Turkish government’s new consulate building in Manhattan before he became mayor.
Last week Monday, Federal investigators seized the mayor’s phones and iPad as part of the investigation into whether his 2021 mayoral campaign conspired with the Turkish government to accept illegal foreign donations.
As Brooklyn borough president, Adams reportedly asked the then-Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro to allow the Turkish government to occupy their unopened building, which remained closed due to safety issues, The New York Times and New York Post reported Saturday.
Adams had won the Democratic primary and was weeks away from being officially elected mayor when he intervened, according to reports.
On Sunday, Adams said he was “doing my basic duties as the borough president, and what I’m really hoping is that these periodic leaks stop.”
“We’re cooperating, we need to do this together so all the facts can come out,” he added, as he ducked out of a memorial for Flight 587, which crashed on the Rockaway peninsula in 2001 and killed 265 people.
Lisa Zornberg, the mayor’s chief counsel at City Hall, said in a statement that the mayor and his team were continuing to work with investigators, as she also blasted the leaks.
“We hope that investigators will continue to cooperate with us and reprimand any federal officer who has improperly leaked details about this investigation as such conduct could prejudice the public and undermine the integrity of our law enforcement process,” she said in a statement.
Mayor Adams has retained his own criminal defense attorney in the weeks following the FBI raiding the Brooklyn home of his top fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, on Nov. 2. Last Monday, FBI officials stopped him following an event at NYU and seized his phones, according to reports.
Federal officials are reportedly looking at potential straw donations to the mayor’s 2021 campaign from the Turkish government.
THE CITY has reported on at least two instances of connections between the Adams campaign and Turkey, including a cluster of donations from KSK Construction, a Williamsburg-based firm owned by Turkish nationals, that had been flagged by the city’s Campaign Finance Board.
That firm’s founder also ran another company that was at the heart of two other corruption scandals, THE CITY reported.
The other link comes from the small Turkish-owned Bay Atlantic University in Washington D.C. The Adams campaign accepted and then returned $10,000 in donations linked to the university.
The mayor’s campaign also received $6,000 from three board members of the nonprofit Turken Foundation, which was incorporated by a son of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The mayor also said he met President Erdogan, as Brooklyn borough president, at a dinner for an unspecified nonprofit.
The federal probe comes after six people were indicted this summer by the Manhattan District Attorney for allegedly bundling illegal donations to the Adams campaign, including one former NYPD deputy inspector who has known the mayor for years.
Two of those men pleaded guilty in October on conspiracy charges stemming from a straw donor scheme, and the other four defendants have not yet been prosecuted.
The 35-story Turkish Consulate General on First Avenue, near the United Nations, opened in 2021 with a temporary certificate of occupancy after Adams reached out to the former fire commissioner, the Times reported.
There are currently two open buildings violations dating back to July 22, 2021 listed at the address, according to Department of Buildings records. Both relate to issues with the building’s exterior facade and broken glass on the 17th floor.
There were 38 violations reported at the address since 2016, including complaints about black mold in the former Turkish consulate building and work being done without a permit in 2017, according to DOB records.
In 2018, there was a partial stop work order after the construction work being done did not conform to renderings filed with the city, records show.
There is not currently a certificate of occupancy listed for the building on the Department of Buildings’ open data system.
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