NEW YORK (New York Times) — Federal authorities are investigating whether Mayor Eric Adams, weeks before his election two years ago, pressured New York Fire Department officials to sign off on the Turkish government’s new high-rise consulate in Manhattan despite safety concerns with the building, three people with knowledge of the matter said.
After winning the Democratic mayoral primary in July, Adams contacted then-Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro in late summer 2021 and urged him to allow the Turkish government to occupy the building at least on a temporary basis. The building had yet to open because fire officials had cited safety issues and declined to sign off on its occupancy, the people said.
The unusual intervention by Adams is being examined as part of a broader public corruption investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors in Manhattan that led to the seizure of the mayor’s electronic devices by federal agents early last week, the people said. The FBI has been asking top Fire Department officials about Adams’s role in the matter since the spring, the people said.
Adams’ intervention paved the way for the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose fondness for massive building projects was well known in Turkey, to preside over the grand opening of the $300-million, 35-story tower on his September 2021 visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly, despite numerous flaws in its fire safety system, according to the people familiar with the matter and city records. The skyscraper in the center of New York City reflected Turkey’s “increased power,” Erdogan said at its ribbon-cutting.
The federal criminal inquiry has focused at least in part on whether Adams’s 2021 campaign conspired with the Turkish government, including its consulate general in New York, to illegally funnel foreign money into its coffers, according to a search warrant obtained by the New York Times for an FBI search this month of the home of the mayor’s chief fund-raiser.