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Eric Adams

What the Hell Just Happened With NYC Mayor Eric Adams?

The mayor's day began with a flight to D.C. and ended with a federal investigation of his campaign and the government of Turkey.

Eric Adams raises a flag.

Mayor Eric Adams delivers remarks at a flag-raising ceremony for Turkey. Bowling Green Park, Manhattan. Friday, October 27, 2023. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

At 7:41 a.m. on Thursday morning, Mayor Eric Adams posted a video of himself on a flight to Washington D.C., where he was supposed to meet with members of the Biden administration at the White House, to talk about asylum seekers. By the end of the day, the Times would be reporting that the mayor's 2021 campaign is now ensnared in a federal investigation involving a Brooklyn construction company, the Turkish government, and a conspiracy to sluice foreign money into the mayor's campaign coffers.

Less than two hours after Adams touched down in D.C., his representatives informed reporters that, in fact, the mayor was on his way back to New York. Asked why, City Hall helpfully informed Hell Gate that Adams was returning to "address a matter." 

By midday however, it became clear what was amiss—the mayor was skipping out on important meetings with the White House to instead deal with the fact that the Crown Heights home of his main campaign fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, was reportedly being raided by the FBI

City Hall sent an updated comment, saying that the mayor "heard of an issue related to the campaign, and takes these issues seriously, so wanted to get back to New York as quickly as possible."

The lawyer for Adams's 2021 campaign, whose name is Vito Pitta, said in a statement that "the campaign has always held itself to the highest standards. The campaign will of course comply with any inquiries, as appropriate. Mayor Adams has not been contacted as part of this inquiry.”

Suggs is 25 years old, and started as an intern for Adams in 2017 when he was Brooklyn Borough President. By 2021, she was working on Adams's successful mayoral campaign as a fundraiser. She is now the chief fundraiser for his 2025 election effort, and the Times reported that Adams's campaign has paid Suggs $100,000 for her work over the last two years. As the Daily News revealed this past spring, Suggs has also been working as a lobbyist, including on behalf of the owners of the East Broadway Mall in Chinatown, who were looking for a lease renewal for their City-owned building. (Who else is reportedly involved in this deal? Jordan Coleman, the mayor's son, who was photographed at an out-of-state event with the developers, according to reporting from Documented and The CITY, though Adams claimed Tuesday not to know why. "My son does not get into my business," he said. "I do not get into my son’s business.")

Suggs is the goddaughter of Eric Adams's Chief Advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin, the Daily News reported. The Post also noted that neighbors heard shouting in the building during the raid

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District, which was reportedly behind the raid, declined to comment to Hell Gate. 

This isn't the first time that people connected to the 2021 Adams campaign have found themselves investigated by law enforcement. Over the summer, six of Adams's donors were arrested on state charges of creating "straw donor" contributions, by using people's names without their consent to get around campaign contribution laws, and then using those donations to secure matching funds. One of those charged was Dwayne Montgomery, a retired NYPD deputy inspector whom Adams has known for years, and who was in touch with senior members of the Adams campaign to arrange a fundraiser, before which he told other people involved in the alleged straw donor effort that "[Adams] doesn't want to do anything if he doesn't get 25 Gs."

Last week, two of those charged (but not Montgomery) plead guilty to misdemeanors relating to the straw donor conspiracy, and agreed to cooperate with further investigations into Eric Adams's 2021 campaign

Late on Thursday afternoon, the Times reported that the raid of Suggs's home was part of a federal public corruption investigation involving a Brooklyn construction company and the government of Turkey, "including persons acting at the behest of the Turkish government," the Times story said, quoting the search warrant.

It's not clear if the straw donor investigation is related to Thursday's raid.

The home of Brianna Suggs on November 2, 2023 (Hell Gate)

When Hell Gate showed up at Suggs's home on Thursday afternoon, the FBI was long gone, and nobody answered the doorbell. That didn't stop a small band of TV news reporters, tabloid stringers, freelance photographers and other feral stakeout creatures from casing the leafy brownstone block looking for something that might justify their ongoing presence there. They found it in Christopher Kelly Burwell Jr., who, according to rumor on the block, had captured video of FBI agents leaving Suggs's apartment.

Burwell, wearing torn jeans, a black hoodie, and a long beard, made his entrance on a white Suzuki scooter blasting Monica's 1996 hit "Before You Walk Out of My Life," peeling up and down the block a couple times and hollering along to the lyrics as reporters attempted to flag him down. He finally came to earth mid-block, parking the scooter but leaving the music playing, singing and dancing like a pied piper as the reporters drew close to him, attempting to establish rapport: "Is that Toni Braxton?" a WNBC correspondent asked.

Burwell, a 53-year resident of the block, had indeed witnessed the raid. "I woke up to the FBI," he said. "I saw the FBI on the block, and it was scary." What was the tip-off that it was the FBI, reporters wanted to know? Burwell looked at the reporters quizzically. "Their jackets," he said. "The FBI—you know, the letters, F, B, I?"

Burwell didn't know anything about Suggs's work with the mayor or why the FBI might have raided her home, but he wanted reporters to know that she and her family are good people. "I've been knowing them basically my whole adult life," he said. "I had a problem with drugs and alcohol, and the father helped me out a lot." (Suggs's father, William Suggs Sr., was a member of the mayor's transition committee.)

That was all well and good, but the reporters really wanted to see Burwell's video. Could they? Could they please? Would he show it to them? Burwell took half a step back, laughing nervously. "I need an agent, I need a manager!" Burwell said.

Last week, Mayor Adams attended a flag-raising for the country of Turkey, and boasted about how many times he's been there. "I'm probably the only mayor in the history of this city that has not only visited Türkiye once," Adams said, according to City Hall's official transcript, which is choosing to use the Turkish spelling of Turkey. "But I think I'm on my sixth or seventh visit to Türkiye."

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