On the heels of winning the city’s 2021 Democratic mayoral primary, Eric Adams called up the head of the FDNY and urged him to clear the way for the Turkish government to open its gleaming new consulate in Manhattan despite safety concerns at the high-rise building, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to the Daily News on Monday.
The source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter with the press and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Adams’ outreach to then-FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro in late summer 2021 is being scrutinized by federal investigators as part of a public corruption probe into whether the mayor’s campaign reportedly conspired with the Turkish government to funnel illegal foreign cash into the campaign’s coffers via straw donors.
The 35-story glass tower consulate, which functions as the headquarters for the Turkish government’s diplomatic operations in the U.S., is located on First Avenue across from the United Nations building.
In summer 2021, the opening of the consulate had been held up due to city inspectors finding that the building’s glass panels were prone to breaking, causing safety hazards, city records show.
In one instance, inspectors found that four glass panels had broken and crashed onto the sidewalk below on First Avenue, records show. According to the New York Times, which first reported Adams’ outreach to Nigro, there were also problems with the building’s fire safety system.
Despite those concerns, Adams, who was at the time Brooklyn borough president and had been the Democratic nominee for mayor, contacted Nigro and urged him to allow the Turkish government to at least receive a temporary certificate to operate the building, the source familiar with the matter told The News.
After Adams’ intervention, the building, which cost $300 million to construct, was able to open in September 2021.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdögan attended the building’s opening ceremony while in the city for the United Nations General Assembly. At the ceremony, Erdögan said the skyscraper showcased Turkey’s “increased power” on a global scale.
Adams has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing as part of the FBI investigation, and neither has anyone connected with his campaign.
Asked about why Adams intervened in the consulate matter, his campaign provided a statement from the mayor suggesting that corresponding with city government agencies was part of his job as Brooklyn borough president.
“As a borough president, part of my routine role was to notify government agencies of issues on behalf of constituents and constituencies,” the statement said. “I have not been accused of wrongdoing, and I will continue to cooperate with investigators.”