NYC mayor retains lawyer in federal fundraising probe, but plays down concern

NEW YORK (AP) — Facing a room full of reporters for the first time since federal agents raided the home of his chief fundraiser, Mayor Eric Adams said he didn't have anything to fear from the investigation, even as an attorney for his administration acknowledged being in contact with federal authorities.

“It would really shock me if someone that was hired by my campaign did something that’s inappropriate,” Adams said, flanked by eight of his top deputies in City Hall. “Not only would it shock me, it would hurt me.”

He then laughed off a question about whether he could personally face federal charges, while noting that he had hired a lawyer from the law firm WilmerHale to represent him.

Lisa Zornberg, chief counsel at City Hall, confirmed the Adams administration was also in touch with federal prosecutors in Manhattan about the matter, though she declined to go into detail about their communications.

A spokesperson for Adams’ campaign previously said they had not been contacted about the raid.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have declined to say what the investigation is about, but a search warrant obtained by the New York Times indicated that investigators are examining whether the Adams campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive donations from foreign sources, funneled through straw donors.

The investigation burst into public view last Wednesday following an early morning search by FBI agents at the Brooklyn home of Brianna Suggs, a 25-year-old campaign consultant who had served as Adams’ chief fundraiser in his 2021 mayoral campaign.

On Wednesday, Adams spoke affectionately about Suggs, describing her as a “brilliant young lady” who joined his Brooklyn Borough Hall staff as a teenage intern and quickly worked her way up to the position of top fundraiser.

“People of color just don’t get those roles,” he noted. “She outraised every other fundraiser in the race. She worked hard. She learned. I’m really proud of her and I’m sure she’s going to get through this.”

Suggs, who has not spoken publicly since the raid, did not respond to a request for comment. Brendan McGuire, the attorney hired to represent Adams, also not respond to an inquiry.

A spokesperson for the Adams campaign pledged last week to review “all documents and actions by campaign workers connected to the contributors in question.” Adams did not say on Wednesday whether they had found any irregularities, but insisted the campaign “closely followed the rules.”

“I start the day with telling my team, ‘We got to follow the law,’” he said. “It’s almost to the point that I’m annoying. I just strongly believe you have to follow the law.”

Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for the federal prosecutor’s office in Manhattan, declined to comment.