New York City Mayor Eric Adams has set up his own legal defense fund amid a swirling investigation into allegations foreign money was funneled into his mayoral campaign.
The fund, called The Eric Adams Legal Defense Trust, will allow the mayor to accept donations outside the normal campaign cycle of up to $5,000, according to Politico, which first reported the story.
Adams will have to report the names and addresses of contributors giving $100 or more, while his subordinates in government are barred from donating under law, as well as anyone doing business with the city.
The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board posted a suite of documentation Friday on the new fundraising vehicle, including an affidavit signed by Adams dated Nov. 15.
“This Trust is necessitated by, and intended to defray, legal expenses in connection with the inquiries by the office of United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York related to the operations of the Eric Adams 2021 mayoral campaign committee,” the affidavit reads.
Peter Aschkenasy, a longtime restaurateur, is the trustee of the fund, according to the report.
Aschkenasy chaired a nonprofit affiliated with the mayor’s previous role as Brooklyn borough president that helped boost Adams’ public profile ahead of his mayoral run, the publication reported.
The move comes just weeks after the home of Brianna Suggs, a top fundraiser for Adams, was raided by the FBI as part of a broad public corruption investigation into whether his 2021 election campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign donations.
The FBI later seized two phones and an iPad belonging to Adams as part of the probe. Adams has denied any wrongdoing.
Investigators are also probing the potential involvement of a Brooklyn construction company with ties to Turkey, as well as a small university in Washington, D.C., that also has ties to the country and to Adams.
The FBI is also reportedly investigating Adams for possibly pressuring city officials to open a Manhattan building in order to house the Turkish consulate.
In July, six people were charged in a scheme to raise money through straw donations for Adams’ 2021 campaign. A straw donation is when someone makes a political contribution in another person or entity’s name, only to be later reimbursed by another. Such donations are often used to avoid limits on campaign contributions.