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Eric Adams

This Special Mayoral Advisor Rang in 2024 With Eric Adams and a Pending DOI Investigation

Winnie Greco collects an annual salary of $100,000 and attended a banquet with Adams's son in San Francisco.

Eric Adams wearing a big grey sweater standing next to Winnie Greco in Times Square.

Eric Adams and Winnie Greco hang out in Times Square, December 31, 2023. (Benny Polatseck / Mayoral Photography Office)

As the last seconds of 2023 ticked away, Mayor Eric Adams was in Times Square. Joining him was his deputy mayor for operations, his Sanitation commissioner, and his Special Advisor and Director of Asian Affairs, Winnie Greco.

Since November, Greco has been under the scrutiny of the City's Department of Investigation for allegedly using her position to compel another City employee to perform construction work on her Bronx home, charges that she has denied.

Greco also appears to be involved in a potentially lucrative lease transfer of the East Broadway Mall—a process that included attending a banquet in San Francisco with a business leader connected to the lease, and the mayor's son, Jordan Coleman.

On Wednesday, Politico reported that Adams's schedules showed that in September of 2022, the mayor and Greco met to discuss an "Update on East Broadway Mall," with the note, "do not add anyone." (The Mayor's Office declined to comment on what they described as a "private conversation.")

Greco, who is paid an annual salary of $100,000, has known Adams for years. How did they get to be so close?

For more, we turn to The Eric Adams Table of Success, the interactive site Hell Gate released last month that explores dozens of people who are in the mayor's orbit, their connections to each other, and why it all matters.

Greco certainly has a seat at the table. Here's her entry.

For years, Eric Adams had promised the Chinese American community in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a "Friendship Archway," to be gifted from China to Brooklyn’s Chinatown. "Bringing New York City’s first-ever Friendship Archway to Brooklyn has been a labor of love," Adams said in a press release in 2017, touting the new arch alongside then-Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

The "Friendship Archway" was the brainchild of Winnie Greco, who was an unpaid fundraiser for Eric Adams while he was Brooklyn borough president. (Greco’s last name was previously Zheng.) In 2014, Greco’s nonprofit reportedly paid for Adams to go to China, ostensibly to get him on board with the archway plan. Greco then spent the next several years using her organization, the Sino-America NY Brooklyn Archway Association, to fundraise for the arch, amassing $221,000 between 2013 and 2018, according to tax records

As borough president, Adams set aside $2 million in City funding for the archway, which was to be built by the Chinese government and then shipped over to the U.S. But despite de Blasio giving his blessing for the project, the deal fell apart—in 2020, the de Blasio administration announced that the arch wasn’t coming, with Adams’s office blaming worsening relations between China and the U.S.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announce plans for a friendship arch in Sunset Park, as Winnie Greco (far right) looks on. (Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)

The apparent demise of the arch project didn’t stop Greco from fundraising for Adams, however. After securing his second term in Brooklyn Borough Hall, Adams set his sights on City Hall—and Greco began holding major fundraisers for the candidate within the Asian American community. After Adams came out in favor of abolishing the entrance exam for the City’s specialized high schools, a move deeply unpopular with certain segments of the city’s Asian American community, some Adams fundraisers were canceled. Greco assembled a meeting to smooth things over between the borough president and Asian American community leaders—and eventually, Adams reversed his stance on the tests

Greco was one of a handful of people on the dais in Times Square when Adams was inaugurated on New Year’s Day 2022, and immediately found a job in City Hall as a "Special Advisor to the Mayor and Director of Asian Affairs," with a salary of $100,000. (Her niece also found a well-paying job in City Hall’s press office.)

In her current role, Greco acts as an official Adams administration liaison to various Asian American neighborhoods and groups, organizing and showing up at various parades, visiting grieving family members as a City Hall representative, and helping to host a variety of community meetings on crime and public safety.

According to The CITY, Greco asked a campaign volunteer to help remodel her Bronx home and promised him a job at City Hall. When asked about these findings, the mayor deflected and downplayed his relationship to Greco, saying he hadn’t spoken to her about the allegations. "When I see her, I say 'ni hao.' You know, that’s 'hello,'" he told the press. 

City Hall spokesperson said Greco "strongly denies" the reporting by the CITY. 

Greco has also raised eyebrows for her involvement in the City’s handling of a new leaseholder for the struggling City-owned 88 East Broadway Mall, underneath the Manhattan Bridge. The consortium that eventually won the potentially lucrative lease for the mall, called Broadway East Group (BEG), LLC, is connected to a family group that held an event in San Francisco in March. That event was attended by Greco; Wade Li, the head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York (CCCNY); and Eric Adams’s son Jordan Coleman, according to Documented. It’s unclear whether Greco was there on City business, but, according to Wade Li, CCCNY has two board members who are involved with BEG, LLC, the new operator for the mall, leading to accusations from other groups vying for the lease that Greco helped to steer it to BEG, LLC. 

City Hall did not respond to a request for comment directed to Greco. Coleman told Hell Gate he was in San Francisco with Greco because he was researching a film he was making about the history of Chinatown.

To read more about other people in the mayor's orbit, browse the whole Table of Success.

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