The unfolding investigation into Mayor Eric Adams’ 2021 campaign has taken an interesting turn, as federal investigators are now focusing on a series of text messages suggesting his involvement in expediting the opening of the Turkish government’s new diplomatic headquarters in Manhattan. The texts, exchanged in September 2021 between Adams, Turkish Consul General Reyhan Özgür, and then-FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, were discovered by FBI agents after seizing Adams’ electronic devices on Monday.
The Text Messages: In a September 5, 2021, text, Özgür informed Adams that the construction of the Turkevi Center diplomatic headquarters had been completed, but it still needed a “temporary certificate of occupancy” from the Fire Department. Özgür asked Adams if he could help, given his connection to Nigro. Adams then reached out to Nigro, requesting him to look into the matter. Notably, sources suggest that Adams did not issue any direct orders to Nigro.
On September 10, Nigro responded to Adams, assuring him that the necessary approval would be granted by the following Monday, or September 13. The Turkevi Center celebrated its grand opening on September 21, 2021, becoming the New York home of the Turkish consulate, featuring meeting spaces, commercial areas, and apartments.
Legal Implications: Despite the intense scrutiny, the text messages, as revealed by sources, do not indicate any criminal activity beyond what is considered typical outreach by elected officials on behalf of constituents. Several sources briefed on the matter have emphasized that the messages don’t show any wrongdoing on Adams’ part. Both Adams and Nigro deny any illicit activities, with Adams expressing full cooperation in the federal investigation into his 2021 campaign.
Reactions and Defenses: City officials, including Rubén Díaz Jr. and City Councilman Kevin Riley, downplayed the significance of the texts, highlighting that such interactions between elected officials and city agencies are standard practice. They argue that it’s part of the protocol for officials to advocate for constituents and businesses.
Ongoing Investigation: Federal authorities are investigating whether the Turkish government or its citizens illegally channeled donations to Adams’ campaign through “straw donors,” a method where listed contributors may not be the actual funding source. The focus is on determining if there were quid-pro-quo favors exchanged. The recent seizure of Adams’ electronic devices follows a raid on the home of his lead campaign fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, as part of the broader investigation into campaign contributions and potential ties to the Turkish government.