Adams Starts Legal Defense Fund Amid Probe of NYC Campaign

Adams Starts Legal Defense Fund Amid Probe of NYC Campaign – Mayor Eric Adams of New York City established a legal defense fund amid a federal investigation into potential public corruption during his 2021 campaign. The fund, enabling the acceptance of donations beyond regular campaign periods, is overseen by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board. Documentation for this new fundraising avenue was posted by the board on Friday.

The Eric Adams Legal Defense Trust, “is necessitated by, and intended to defray, legal expenses in connection with the inquiries by the office of United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York related to the operations of the Eric Adams 2021 mayoral campaign committee,” reads a signed affidavit from Adams dated Wednesday.

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According to the law, Mayor Adams can receive donations up to $5,000, and he is required to report the names and addresses of contributors giving $100 or more to the Conflicts of Interest Board every quarter. The initial report from Adams is expected on January 15. However, certain individuals are restricted from contributing; the law prohibits Mayor Adams’ government subordinates and those engaged in business with the city from making donations.

Federal investigators are seeking proof of collaboration between the campaign and the Turkish government, as well as the reception of illicit contributions from Turkish citizens funneled through intermediaries. Despite a series of FBI actions on November 2, no one has faced allegations of misconduct. Adams hinted at using campaign funds for legal support from WilmerHale, the firm his former chief counsel rejoined. 

However, recent revelations suggest his intention to secure some funds from fresh donors. “Based on the information known to us at this time, the Office of the Corporation Counsel does not and will not represent you in your individual capacity in this investigation or in any future investigations or matters arising from this investigation, whether civil or criminal in nature,” she wrote.

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In 2019, the New York City Council established this form of a legal defense fund to enable elected officials facing escalating legal expenses to receive amounts exceeding the city’s $50 gift limit, aimed at deterring bribery. Back then, ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio incurred about $300,000 in legal costs related to a federal inquiry into his political fundraising. Although he endorsed the concept of a legal defense fund, he did not initiate one personally.

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