The extensive and unusual relationship of New York City Mayor Eric Adams with Turkey has come under scrutiny as the FBI escalates its investigation into Adams and his inner circle, amid allegations that his 2021 mayoral campaign improperly accepted Turkish government funds.
The investigation, which began with a pre-dawn raid on the home of the mayor’s chief fundraiser on 2 November, has expanded to include searches of the home of a Turkish Airlines executive and a Brooklyn construction company owned by Turkish individuals who have provided financial support to Adams. Phones, iPads and documents were seized during the operation.
Adams has received significant donations, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, from entities linked to Turkey. This includes a $6,000 contribution to his mayoral campaign from board members of the Turken Foundation, a non-profit organisation linked to the children of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to local non-profit news outlet The City.
The investigation also looks into whether Adams improperly influenced city officials to secure favourable approvals for Turkish officials, such as allegedly pressurising the New York City Fire Commissioner to expedite the opening of a new Turkish consular building in the city.
The incident in question was during Adams’ mayoral campaign in 2021, and serves as in illustration of his involvement with Turkey. At the time he facilitated a request from the Turkish consulate to the New York City Fire Commissioner, aimed at expediting the process of allowing occupancy of the Turkevi Center, a high-rise building near the UN headquarters in midtown Manhattan, that serves as the headquarters of numerous Turkish diplomatic missions in New York City and a centre of Turkish cultural activity. The New York Fire Department had safety concerns about the building, and the Turkish president’s desire to unveil it during his UN General Assembly visit was jeopardised by the delays in approval. In the end, a temporary permit was granted, allowing the unveiling to go ahead, with President Erdoğan hailing the new tower as a symbol of the “growing power” of Turkey.
The close ties between Adams and Turkey, cultivated during his tenure as president of Brooklyn borough, include numerous trips to the country, donations from Turkish-affiliated groups, and possible violations of campaign finance regulations. Politico reported that Adams had actively participated in nearly 80 events celebrating Turkey in a period of eight years during his time as Brooklyn borough president.