FBI probes flight upgrades for NYC Mayor Eric Adams

Gracie Mansion was faced with increased scrutiny as G-Men probed free upgrades awarded to Gotham’s mayor while traveling aboard a foreign government-owned airline.

Concerns over New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ (D) campaign fundraising appeared to increase as the FBI and federal prosecutors combed over international flights taken by the Big Apple big shot. In particular, according to a report from The New York Times, the broad corruption inquiry was exploring complimentary elevation to best seats available as Adams flew overseas on Turkish Airlines.

The mayor had repeatedly gone on record praising the air carrier half-owned by the Turkish government’s sovereign wealth fund and the close examination of upgrades marked only the latest look at an alleged conspiracy between the foreign nation and campaign fundraising.

According to the newspaper, “The broader investigation has focused at least in part on whether the Turkish government conspired with Mr. Adams’s mayoral campaign to funnel foreign money into its coffers, and whether Mr. Adams pressured the New York City Fire Department to sign off on Turkey’s new high-rise consulate in Manhattan despite safety concerns.”

Adams had said in November of the Turkish consulate approval, “When the constituency reaches out to us for assistance to another agency…you reach out to an agency and ask them to look into the matter.”

In the fall, the home of Adams’ top campaign fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, had been raided by the FBI wherein two laptops, three iPhones, seven “contribution card binders” and other items had been seized alongside a “manila folder labeled Eric Adams.”

Additionally, electronic devices belonging to the mayor were also seized as the investigation looked into ties with the Turkish government that included a connection with D.C.-based and Turkish-owned Bay Atlantic University dating back to his time as Brooklyn borough president.

Further, investigators had searched the homes of former airline executive, Cenk Öcal, and Adams’ liaison to the Turkish Community, Rana Abbasova.

Brendan McGuire, special counsel for Adams, provided a statement to multiple media outlets that contended, “As borough president, the mayor consistently disclosed his official travel to Turkey, did not receive any improper upgrades and did nothing inappropriate in exchange for an upgrade.”

“Speculation is not evidence,” he continued. “We look forward to a just and timely conclusion to this investigation.”

Turkish Airlines is half-owned by the government’s sovereign wealth fund and, as noted by the Times, Hizzoner’s presence at events attended by air carrier representatives had him interacting in “the presence of Turkish business leaders and diplomats with their own close ties to Turkey’s government and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”

A previous report had noted that over his eight-year tenure as Brooklyn’s executive, Adams had attended more than 80 events commemorating or celebrating Turkey. Turkish Airlines was listed as one of the most frequent hosts or affiliates with those events and, in 2015, they were said to have funded one of six trips to Turkey by Adams, something he allegedly omitted from his financial disclosure forms at the time.

Kevin Haggerty

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