What's Going to Happen to Eric Adams?
The smoke and the fire
On Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams will not hold his weekly question and answer session with reporters. The so-called “off-topic” press conference is a city journalist’s only chance to ask Adams questions on anything they choose. Had Adams held his weekly Q&A—prior mayors, Republican and Democratic alike, were far more available to reporters and didn’t seek to aggressively limit their line of questioning—he would have been asked, almost exclusively, about the FBI raiding the home of his chief fundraiser, 25-year-old Brianna Suggs. Federal investigators are reportedly conducting a broad public corruption investigation into whether Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign donations. Investigators are also seeking to learn more about the potential involvement of a construction company with ties to Turkey, as well as a small university in Washington, D.C. that has ties to the country and to Adams.
Adams has not been accused of any wrongdoing. There is no indication the investigation is targeting him directly, according to the New York Times. If Adams’ chief fundraiser is indicted, she will be at least the second person charged with a crime who worked closely with him. Earlier this year, Eric Ulrich, his former Department of Buildings commissioner, was indicted by the Manhattan DA’s office on unrelated bribery charges.
How far this federal investigation goes is anyone’s guess. Anyone who pays even mild attention to New York politics is wondering whether Adams will become the first sitting mayor to be indicted since the five boroughs consolidated into one city in 1898. Of course, corruption scandals themselves aren’t new to mayoral administrations. Fear of prosecution drove Jimmy Walker, a flamboyant Tammany Hall mayor, from office, as well as William O’Dwyer. Ed Koch’s third term was marred by the Parking Violations Bureau scandal and he lost his attempt at re-election. Adams has elements of Walker and Koch in him, though he hasn’t been mayor long enough to amass the sort of policy accomplishments that bought both men a degree of goodwill with the public and the press. Adams’ various governing failures, unrelated even to this latest investigation, have only weakened his standing.
What will happen to Adams? Let’s unpack the scenarios.