NYC Mayor Eric Adams defends role in Turkish consulate project amid FBI investigation

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams defended his role in the new Turkish consulate building project on Sunday amid reports that he pressured the city to approve the building despite safety concerns.

Shortly after winning the Democratic mayoral primary in 2021, Adams, then Brooklyn’s borough president, reached out to Daniel Nigro, the New York City fire commissioner at the time, encouraging him to evaluate a request from the Turkish government to use the building, which had not yet opened because fire department officials had refused to sign off on the safety of its occupancy.

Adams said in a statement Sunday via campaign spokesperson Evan Thies that part of his role as Brooklyn borough president was to “notify government agencies of issues on behalf of constituents and constituencies.”

“I have not been accused of wrongdoing and I will continue to cooperate with investigators,” he said.

City Hall Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg said in a statement Sunday that Adams and her team are cooperating with investigators.

“We hope that investigators will continue to cooperate with us and reprimand any federal officer who has improperly leaked details about this investigation,” Zornberg said, “as such conduct could prejudice the public and undermines the integrity of our law enforcement process.”

The examination is part of an ongoing campaign fundraising investigation that led FBI agents to seize multiple electronic devices from Adams earlier this week.

The mayor’s team said this week that it had willingly alerted authorities involved in the federal investigation to someone who “acted improperly.” And at a news conference this week, Adams said he would be “shocked” if investigators find that his campaign had coordinated illegal behavior.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the matter of the building project said Adams forwarded a September 2021 text requesting help from the Turkish consulate to Nigro, asking the fire commissioner to take a look at the issue of the building's occupancy.

Nigro responded later saying a letter allowing occupancy would be handled by the following Monday, the sources said.

Adams said his text to the fire commissioner was a routine request. Adams had just won the democratic primary election for mayor at the time of the texts.

The Turkish House, also called Turkevi Center, in New York (Brazil Photo Press via Alamy)
The Turkish House, also called Turkevi Center, in New York (Brazil Photo Press via Alamy)

A source familiar with the matter said former fire commissioner Nigro was questioned as a witness by the FBI at least twice — most recently on Nov 3. Reached by phone, Nigro said, "I prefer not to comment at this time."

Two sources familiar with the investigation said that safety officials at the FDNY signed off on a letter of occupancy with no objection, meaning the FDNY had reached an agreement with the building for added safety measures that would allow for access to the building.

The sources added that the owners of the building wanted to gain access in part because Turkish leaders were soon coming to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney, the FBI and the Department of Interior declined to comment. A spokesman for the FDNY also declined comment.

The Turkish Embassy in Washington has not responded to email requests for comment.

News of questions about the Turkish consulate fire safety inspection were previously reported by The New York Times. It was last Monday that the FBI seized Adam’s phones in connection with the criminal investigation.

NBC New York reported earlier this month that Adams had raised more than $2 million for his re-election campaign in 2025. Adams, formerly a New York Police Department captain, had campaigned as a tough-on-crime Democrat who would increase the city’s police staffing and funding.

The Turkish consulate building, known as the Turkevi Center, in Manhattan still has a temporary certificate of occupancy, sources familiar with the matter said.

Adams has made numerous trips to Turkey in recent years and the timing of the consulate’s opening coincided with a visit to New York by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In July, six people were charged in an alleged scheme to divert tens of thousands of dollars to Adams’ campaign through straw donors, or people whose names were used to subvert individual donation limits. Two pleaded guilty.

On Nov. 2, the FBI searched the home of top campaign fundraiser Brianna Suggs. Part of the investigation focuses on whether money from overseas was improperly bundled into the mayor’s 2021 campaign.

Investigators are also looking into donations from people associated with KSK construction — a firm whose owners have ties to Turkey.

The allegations, filed in state court, did not implicate Adams, and his representatives have said he did not have knowledge of the alleged scheme.

No criminal charges have been filed in the matter and the investigation is ongoing.

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