New York City Mayor Eric Adams stands accused of possibly breaching financial regulations regarding his mayoral campaign. The New York City Campaign Finance Board held a hearing on Wednesday, March 15th and accused Mayor Adams of not appropriately dealing with matters regarding his 2021 Transition and Inauguration Entity (TIE). The mayor allegedly committed three offenses with regard to his TIE, which were accepting prohibited donations, failing to respond to requests for the necessary documentation and information, and failing to shut the fund once he became mayor. The mayor is looking at the possibility of paying a fine between $20,000 and $50,000, which is prescribed by the Campaign Finance Board’s guidelines
Mayor Adams allegedly received financial contributions from ineligible donors. It is alleged he received a total of $15,600 from donors that included a real estate developer and an architect, who had a business relationship with the city. Donations from individuals with business ties to the city are prohibited as they are a result of an improper relationship and may possibly create a conflict of interest.
Mayor Adams is also accused of not responding to the Campaign Finance Board when requests for information and documentation were made. “We heard nothing. There was no response,” said Bethany Perskie, who served as general counsel for the Campaign Finance Board during the hearing. Perskie claimed that communication in the form of letters and warnings had been sent to the mayor on May 16, June 19, June 22, and August 15 of 2022. Though Mayor Adams received many letters of communication from the Campaign Finance Board, no response had been received.
Mayor Adams’ legal representative, Attorney Ardian Tagani, suggested to the Campaign Finance Board that the possible punishment as per the guidelines would be too hefty. He pointed out that the donations from the individuals with business with the city were refunded even though it took longer than expected. Tagani further pointed out that only a small portion of the $1.9 million that was in the TIE. “Given the overwhelming rate of compliance, the TIE argues that the amount recommended in the penalty is entirely excessive and overly punitive,” Tagani said.
After further deliberations and discussions, the Campaign Finance Board agreed to grant Mayor Adams’ legal team the chance to submit any extra documents before the final decision regarding punishment was handed out.
“We really regret this [Transition and Inauguration Entity’s] late submission of information,” said the Campaign Finance Board chairman Frederick Schaffer. “But this is a case of significance and of public interest and induces us to accept this late offer of information so that the record will be complete.”
The Campaign Finance Board has strict guidelines in regards to who politicians are allowed to accept contributions from. Spokesperson for the Campaign Finance Board Timothy Hunter said, “Contributions from people associated with entities that do business with city government are regulated in order to reduce the potential for, and appearance of, ‘pay-to-play’ corruption.”
Mayor Adams is one of several elected politicians who have been accused of violating the Campaign Finance Boards’ guidelines in regards to campaign funds. In January 2023, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso was fined by the Campaign Finance Board over similar discrepancies with his Transition Inauguration Entity. Public Advocate Jumaane Willams was fined $7,524 for accepting money from corporations, failing to document transactions, and accepting donations well over the legal limit.
The Transition and Inauguration Entity is a fund that elected officials use to cover costs in the period after their election and before they officially start the work of their elected office.