FBI investigation of NYC Mayor Eric Adams fundraiser centers on illegal contributions from foreign nationals

An FBI raid at the home of New York City Mayor Eric Adam’s chief fundraiser Thursday morning is said to be part of an investigation to determine whether Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign conspired with a Brooklyn-based construction company to funnel foreign money into the campaign coffers, multiple law enforcement officials told CNN.

Law enforcement officials who are familiar with the search warrants told CNN the investigators are seeking evidence that foreign nationals – who are barred from making contributions – may have “bundled” donations by going into New York’s Turkish American communities and getting US citizens of Turkish origin to act as “straw contributors.”

The alleged scheme would have allowed money coming from foreign business entities to be masked as donations from American citizens who did not actually donate the money.

CNN has reached out to the State Department and the Turkish Embassy for comment.

Thursday night, Adams addressed the investigation by saying he holds himself and his campaign to a high standard.

“I feel extremely comfortable about how I comply with rules and procedures. I’ve stated this over and over again. I hold myself to a high standard, I hold my campaign to a high standard, and I hold my staffers at city hall to a high standard,” he said.

Teams of FBI agents executed “numerous search warrants” at homes and businesses throughout the New York area Thursday morning, including one at the home of chief fundraiser for Adams’ campaign, Brianna Suggs, multiple law enforcement sources told CNN.

The New York Times first reported on the search of Suggs’ home. Suggs has also been subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury, according to The Times.

Suggs is a key player in Adams’ fundraising apparatus for his reelection campaign. The Adams 2025 campaign has already raised more than $2.5 million, according to the city’s campaign finance board.

A spokesperson for Suggs declined to comment.

Speaking to reporters Thursday night, Adams called Suggs “a real professional” who does her job well and will comply with any inquiry that’s made, according to CNN affiliate WCBS.

He added Friday that he has “full confidence in her,” telling television station WPIX that “she will stay with the campaign team.”

In a statement later Friday, Adams denied any knowledge of “improper fundraising activity” and said his team will “work with officials to respond to inquiries, as appropriate — as we always have.”

“I am outraged and angry if anyone attempted to use the campaign to manipulate our democracy and defraud our campaign,” Adams said in the statement. “I want to be clear, I have no knowledge, direct or otherwise, of any improper fundraising activity — and certainly not of any foreign money.”

CNN has reached out to the FBI for comment.

The searches, the sources said, are part of an investigation by the FBI’s Public Corruption squad. The agents took phones, computers, tablets and files from Suggs, according to the sources.

One of the companies that was searched is KSK Construction Group in Brooklyn, the law enforcement officials said. The construction and development company has built apartments and condos all over the city.

A CNN review of campaign finance records identified at least 11 employees at KSK Construction Group donated a total of $13,950 ranging from $1,200 to $1,500, all on the same day, to Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign. CNN has reached out to the donors for comment.

CNN has also reached out to Erden Arkan, who is listed as the owner of KSK Construction Group, and also listed as a donor to the Adams campaign. New York City campaign finance records show Arkan donated $1,500.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office referred CNN to the Adams campaign earlier Thursday.

Adams 2021 campaign counsel Vito Pitta told CNN that “the campaign has always held itself to the highest standards. The campaign will of course comply with any inquiries, as appropriate.”

The mayor had not been contacted as part of the investigation, Pitta said.

Campaign spokesperson Evan Thies told CNN that as of Friday afternoon, the campaign had no knowledge of other staffers having received subpoenas. The campaign, though, has been contacted by the city’s Campaign Finance Board – an independent agency that helps ensure campaign compliance – as part of “the normal review process that all campaigns go through,” he said.

Adams abruptly canceled the remainder of a trip to Washington, DC, Thursday morning to meet with federal officials about the migrant crisis to return to New York. An Adams spokesperson told CNN later Thursday that “the mayor heard of an issue related to the campaign, and takes these issues seriously, so wanted to get back to New York as quickly as possible. He plans to return to DC and reschedule these meetings as soon as he can.”

Adams has openly bragged about his ties to the city’s Turkish American community. He recently held a flag-raising ceremony in Lower Manhattan noting he had visited the country at least six or seven times.

“I’m probably the only mayor in the history of this city that has not only visited Turkey once, but I think I’m on my sixth or seventh visit to Turkey,” Adams said last week.

As Brooklyn Borough president, Adams traveled at least twice to Turkey, where he signed a sister city agreement with Istanbul’s Üsküdar district in August 2015. That trip was paid for by the Turkish Consulate; an organization called the World Tourism Foundation covered the expense of the other.

“This visit,” Adams said in a press release at the time, “underscores the deep importance of our own Turkish community and their contributions to our One Brooklyn family.”

His mayoral campaign received a financial boost after the visit to Turkey. Turkish American supporters hosted a fundraiser for Adams in July 2018 at Ali Baba Turkish Restaurant in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly described KSK Construction Group.

CNN’s Sabrina Shulman and Holmes Lybrand contributed to this report.

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