Have you ever wondered why politicians always seem to have unlimited money? NYC’s Mayor Eric Adams has been receiving large amounts of scrutiny from the press, but he is not shying away from the charges.
Mayor Adams berated the New York Times on Monday for publishing a “silly, silly story” on its front page that examined his embrace of the Big Apple’s pricey, high-end nightlife and City Hall’s repeated refusal to document who is footing the bills.
“I have to ask myself, is something going on with the New York Times right now,” Adams asked rhetorically. “The stories that they’re writing about me, I know people write stories, you get a lot of clicks when Eric Adams’ name is in it. But the front page of the New York Times talked about me going to restaurants?”
The Gray Lady’s exposé detailed how Adams has managed to achieve a de facto membership at the swanky, members-only club Zero Bond, where he regularly appears and was spotted hosting another politician in an ultra-luxury private room accessible only by fingerprint. The club would normally cost $9,000 in initiation and subscription fees for the first year.
City rules enforced by the Conflicts of Interest Board virtually bar officials and city employees from receiving gifts worth more than $50.
“Public servants cannot accept a gift worth $50 or more … from a City vendor, meaning any person or firm who the public servant knows is, or intends to become, engaged in business dealings with the City,” the COIB website states.
It adds that a “gift” is defined as “anything of value — including a meal, a ticket to an event, a gift card, a loan, a swag bag, or a holiday fruit basket.”
Adams on Monday claimed he attended as the guest of other members, but he refused to identify who was inviting him to the Noho hotspot, where he celebrated after his November election win.
“If I tell you who I go with, y’all going to do full-page stories on them,” he retorted when pressed. “Nobody’s going to want to hang out with me anymore. Because people are going to follow them, they’re going to watch them.”
It’s the latest round of ethics woes to confront an administration that has been battered by criticism over how it has handled those matters during its first months in office:
- Adams hired his longtime friend and a former police officer, Timothy Pearson, as a top public safety adviser while allowing him to maintain his employment at a casino operator seeking an expanded gambling license from regulators.
- The mayor attempted to hire his brother — also a former NYPD officer — back on at the Police Department in a $210,000-a-year position until city ethics watchdogs vetoed the idea and mandated a salary of just $1.
- Hizzoner’s deputy mayor for public safety, Phillip Banks, stunningly quit the department as the FBI probed his finances as part of a sprawling corruption case in which he was identified later as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Times reporters also staked out another haunt frequented by the mayor, a recently opened Italian restaurant in Midtown called La Baia.
Adams dined at the West 52nd Street eatery 14 times over the course of the month, per the report. City Hall did not provide any receipts to the paper, even though his spokesmen said the mayor receives a monthly invoice for his meals.
“I pay every bill. Not the city. I pay every bill. You say, ‘Well, why don’t you give receipts?’ What mayor have you ever asked to get receipts for his private dinners,” Adams argued. “You can’t have a rule for Eric and then a rule for everyone else.”
Adams’ fondness for the spot and relationship with its proprietors — Robert and Zhan Petrosyants, who pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from a check-cashing scheme — was first detailed by Politico New York in February.
“I owe no one a receipt of a private dinner that I have with people in this city. I’m not going to start being treated differently,” he said. “I won’t accept that. That was a silly story. You know it was a silly, silly story.”