Federal agents on Thursday raided the home of a top fundraiser and friend to New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Adams had planned to attend a meeting at the White House with senior Biden administration officials to discuss the migrant crisis, but abruptly flew back to New York.
Agents searched the Brooklyn home of Brianna Suggs, law enforcement told The Associated Press. The FBI confirmed activity occurred at the address but declined to comment further.
Adams has a history with critics who have drawn attention to and prompted investigations about his fundraising tactics. The current inquiry is examining whether the mayor’s campaign conspired with the Turkish government for illegal foreign donations.
Here is what we know about the incident so far.
Who is Brianna Suggs?
General view of the 929 residency’s unit at Crown Highs in Brooklyn, New York Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. Federal agents raided the home of Brianna Suggs, a top fundraiser and longtime confidante to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Brianna Suggs was the campaign fundraiser for Adam’s 2021 mayoral campaign. Suggs, who was 23 years old at the time, was appointed to lead fundraising for Adams’ team and is known as one of his trusted confidantes.
The FBI, via search warrant, was searching for financial records for Suggs and any entity controlled or associated with her, documents related to the mayor’s 2021 campaign, any record of travel by any employee to Turkey and documents related to the interactions between the campaign and the Middle Eastern nation. Authorities also requested Suggs’ cellphone, laptop and tablet.
Suggs may have benefitted from her closeness to the mayor’s senior aide Ingrid Lewis-Martin, according to reporting from Politico. She was referred to as Lewis-Martin’s “goddaughter,” one person familiar with the mayor’s inner circle said.
“She’s like a kid,” the person told Politico. “She’s not meticulous.”
“These kinds of things aren’t going to take him down, they’re just going to take people around him down,” the source added.
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Suggs is currently on the mayor’s reelection campaign and has volunteered with the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
According to her LinkedIn profile, she helped raised $18.4 million for the primary and general elections. She said she “worked closely with the candidate overseeing the day-to-day operations, and managed logistical movements of the candidate.”
Neighbors, friends and family described Suggs as a professional and friendly young woman who would not intentionally partake in a crime.
Adams said Thursday that he had not spoken with Suggs.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks in New York’s Times Square during a news conference. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)
Adams typically goes to lengths to distance himself from investigations of people within his circle, but he did the opposite on Thursday when he canceled his meeting with senior White House officials.
He returned to New York and appeared at Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence, and said he wanted to be “on the ground” to “look at this inquiry,” The New York Times reported.
There is no indication that the FBI raid and ongoing investigation are targeting the mayor, and he has not been accused of wrongdoing.
Adams released a statement Friday that said he is angry and outraged if “anyone attempted to use the campaign to manipulate our democracy and defraud our campaign.”
“I want to be clear, I have no knowledge, direct or otherwise, of any improper fundraising activity– and certainly not of any foreign money,” the mayor continued. “We will of course work with officials to respond to inquiries, as appropriate–as we always have.”
Vito Pitta, the 2021 Adams campaign counsel, also released a statement on behalf of the campaign.
“Immediately upon learning about the federal inquiry, the campaign started an extensive review of all documents and actions by campaign workers connected to the contributors in question,” Pitta said.
Foreign donor investigation
The FBI is conducting an investigation into Adams’ 2021 election campaign to see if he conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign donations, the Times reported.
Investigators are wanting to know more about the potential involvement of a Brooklyn construction company, KSK Construction Group, with ties to Turkey and a small university in Washington, D.C. that has ties to the county and the mayor.
The outlet, who secured a search warrant, also reported that investigators were focused on whether the mayor’s campaign kicked back benefits to the construction company and to Turkish officials.
The FBI was looking for evidence to support a theory that included theft of federal funds and the conspiracy to steal federal funds, wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, and campaign contributions by foreign nationals and conspiracy to make the contributions, the Times reported.
Just last week, Adams was touting his ties to Turkey.
He said there were probably no other mayor in New York City history that had visited Turkey as frequently as he has. Adams said he was on his “sixth or seventh visit,” the New York Daily News reported.