Federal agents descended on the home of a top cash-handler for high-rolling New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday, opening a bizarre new chapter in an evolving straw donor scandal—one that could have global implications.
The New York Times reported that the FBI sweep of consultant Brianna Suggs’ residence coincided with Adams deciding to cancel a slate of scheduled meetings in Washington, D.C. regarding the ongoing migrant crisis at the last minute, even as the mayor’s office denied knowledge of the incident. A source further told the paper that the bureau’s public corruption unit questioned the fundraising ace.
Suggs did not immediately respond to calls or text messages from The Daily Beast.
The Times reported that the FBI sought evidence of a potential ploy to funnel money from the Turkish government through an unspecified Brooklyn construction company to the campaign.
Adams did not immediately comment on the raid. But hours later on Thursday night, ABC 7 New York reported that he’d broken his silence.
“I feel extremely comfortable about how I comply with rules and procedures,” the mayor said. “I hold myself to a high standard, and I hold my campaign to a high standard, and I hold my staff at City Hall to a high standard. I’m very clear that it is my responsibility to hold myself to a high standard and I will comply with any inquiry that is made and I am demanding that my team do the same.”
The raid came just weeks after two construction executives from Queens confessed in Manhattan court to participating in a straw donor scheme, through which the duo kicked cash to Adams’ campaign in the names of their employees. District Attorney Alvin Bragg did not accuse Suggs or Adams of involvement in the plot, although he did name another of the mayor’s associates as an alleged co-conspirator in the complaint.
According to the Times, the agents sought documentation of contacts and travel involving Turkey, including any interactions with “persons acting at the behest of the Turkish government.” A public relations firm belonging to a one-time Adams associate, Ronn Torossian, registered with the federal government as a foreign agent for Turkey in 2017, while on contract with a law firm.
This arrangement dates to four years before Adams won the mayoralty, and a source close to Torossian asserted he did not know Adams at the time and has never discussed Turkish matters with him. There is no evidence at this time that the probe is connected to him.
The Times noted that Adams has traveled to Turkey on multiple occasions, and participated in Turkish cultural events. Further, his international affairs commissioner, Edward Mermelstein, celebrated the opening of a new Turkish permanent mission in New York as one of his first acts in office. Messages The Daily Beast left at phone numbers for Mermelstein did not receive an immediate reply.
Public records show Suggs has soaked up nearly $150,000 to date from Adams’ campaign, including $30,000 for fundraising work—plus more than $100,000 from a political action committee allied with the Big Apple’s top Democrat.
Last month, the New York Daily News also identified multiple individuals not connected with the construction company who appeared as contributors in the mayor’s campaign filings but claimed they could not recall giving him money.
The New York Times noted that Suggs served under Adams when he was Brooklyn borough president, and now works as a lobbyist to a real estate firm. A spokesperson for the mayor said he had returned early from D.C. to “deal with a matter.”