NYC Mayor Eric Adams held honorary post on board of city-funded group, traveled on subsidized trips, disclosure reveals

NEW YORK — An array of outside groups paid for Mayor Eric Adams’ official travel to international hot spots last year, and he was privately engaged in “agency interactions” with his own administration due to his role in a nonprofit group that gets city funding, his latest financial disclosure reveals.

The mandatory disclosure, released Monday by the city Conflicts of Interest Board, says Urban Glass, a nonprofit arts organization in Brooklyn that Adams serves as an “honorary board member” of, received municipal funding in 2023 for “programming and operations.”

Since the group gets taxpayer dollars, Adams’ disclosure says he as an honorary board member technically participated in “interactions” last year with his Cultural Affairs Department, which Urban Glass receives most of its city funding from.

Procurement records show Urban Glass has received more than $408,000 so far this fiscal year, which started July 1, 2023 and runs through the end of this month. Procurement records also show the group, which offers glass-blowing classes at a downtown Brooklyn workshop, has received city funding for years, including some $399,000 last fiscal year and about $467,000 in the fiscal year before that.

Adams has served in the unpaid, non-voting Urban Glass board role since before becoming mayor, but his previous two mayoral financial disclosures didn’t say the group receives municipal funding or that he engaged with agencies on its behalf.

John Kaehny, executive director of the Reinvent Albany government watchdog group, said it wasn’t clear from what’s publicly available why Adams’ previous forms didn’t disclose details about Urban Glass’ city funding; Adams’ office didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

Adams went on several overseas trips in 2023 that his disclosure shows were paid for by private and foreign entities.

The disclosure, which spells out dollar figure ranges instead of exact price-tags, says Colombia’s government spent between $1,000 and $4,999 on “security, ground and air transportation” for Adams when he traveled to the country in October 2023 to tour the Darien Gap, a treacherous jungle pass many migrants go through before crossing into the U.S. Adams went there as New York experienced an influx of migrants from the U.S. southern border.

On the same trip, Adams also visited Mexico for the North Capital Forum conference, where he delivered a speech urging Latin American migrants to consider not going to New York, which has since 2022 struggled to accommodate influxes of asylum seekers. The North Capital Forum paid $1,000-$4,999 for Adams’ “airline, accommodations and ground transportation” in Mexico, his disclosure shows.

Another $1,000-$4,999 was spent by the United Jewish Appeal Federation on Adams’ “flights, accommodations, meals and ground transportation” in Israel during his August 2023 trip there, the financial forms say. As first reported by the Daily News last year, the precise price-tag for Adams’ Israel trip was $4,857, and his decision to let the United Jewish Appeal Federation pay that tab raised concern from government watchdogs due to the fact that two of the group’s executives have city government business interests.

The 2023 disclosure also notes Adams received free tickets to the first match of last August’s US Open in Queens worth between $50 and $999. The tickets were paid by the host, the US Tennis Association, per the disclosure.

“The heart and hustle of this epic competition reflects our city and we’re proud to welcome it back,” Adams’ X account posted from the Aug. 28, 2023 game, where he delivered remarks before it got underway.

Adams attended the first US Open game in 2022, too, but his financial disclosure from that year doesn’t say he got any comped tickets. Adams’ office didn’t immediately return a request for comment on that matter.

Asked about comped tickets and trips, Kaehny said he believes there should be a law against elected officials receiving any gifts exceeding $15. Even if such items are related to his official duties, they are considered gifts under city ethics law.

Kaehny argued that if there truly is a city government purpose for an activity, taxpayer dollars should be used on expenses connected to it. Letting private entities pick up the tab for politicians could “affect the choices” they make in an official capacity, Kaehny continued, pointing to a 2023 study from his group that citied “studies by economists and behavioral scientists.”

Adams’ latest disclosure shows his income remained largely the same in 2023, most of it coming from his more than $250,000 mayoral salary. He also continues to collect between $5,000 and $54,999 in royalties from “Healthy At Last,” a cookbook he co-authored, it shows.

The disclosure also says Adams continues to hold at least $5,000 in Bitcoin and still owns a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood with Sylvia Cowan, an ex-girlfriend.

Adams claimed during the 2021 campaign he had transferred his share in the unit to Cowan, but revealed last year he never did so because he changed his mind about giving up the apartment now that Prospect Heights is “a hot place to own property.”