Gary Jenkins, who recently stepped down as Mayor Adams’ top social services official, is set to take a job at former City Hall chief of staff Frank Carone’s new consulting firm, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The new gig for Jenkins comes less than a month after he resigned as commissioner of the city Department of Social Services. While commissioner, Jenkins was the subject of multiple controversies, including coming under scrutiny from the Department of Investigation over allegations that he tried to cover up the Adams administration’s violations of local homeless shelter rules last year — a probe that remains ongoing.
The exact nature of the position Jenkins would take on at Carone’s new firm, Oaktree Solutions, was not immediately clear, but one of the sources familiar with the move told the Daily News the hire is a “done deal.”
Jenkins did not return phone calls and text messages this week. Carone did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.
Carone, who resigned as Adams’ chief of staff in January after serving in that post for a year, launched Oaktree Solutions shortly after exiting the administration. He is also in charge of running Adams’ 2025 reelection campaign.
Carone has already racked up several high-profile clients for Oaktree, some of whom are seeking to curry favor with Adams’ administration.
Among them is SL Green, the city’s largest commercial landlord, which recently hired Carone’s firm to help in its effort to construct a casino in Times Square, a multi-billion dollar effort contingent on securing a hotly-contested gambling operation license from the state.
Receiving buy-in from Adams is seen as a major boost to any bidders on the state license, and SL Green hired government relations firm Kasirer last year to lobby the mayor’s administration — while Carone and Jenkins were still there — on its casino bid, city records show.
As former municipal government employees, Carone and Jenkins are barred by law for a year from directly lobbying Adams’ administration on behalf of private entities.
Still, their intimate knowledge of the administration is likely to be viewed as a significant asset to any potential Oaktree client with dealings before the city, said John Kaehny, executive director of the Reinvent Albany government watchdog group.
“You can tell me who to contact, direct me and be the puppeteer on exactly what I should do, and then I’ll go forth and do the lobbying and know what to say. That’s a very powerful position to be in,” Kaehny said. “It would be pretty easy for Jenkins to comply with all the laws and still be able to cash in on his connections.”
He added: “The reality is that the law allows top officials to cash in on their relationships. Whether it’s ethical or in the public interest is a different question.”
Beyond SL Green, Carone has added medical provider Northwell Health and the Durst Organization, a real estate company, to Oaktree’s client roster, according to Politico. He has also told associates he’s in talks to sign a contract with LIV, a golf tour company controlled by the Saudi kingdom’s investment fund, the New York Times reported earlier this month.
Before becoming Adams’ commissioner, Jenkins served in a variety of capacities in the Department of Social Services for over three decades. He has no private sector experience listed on his LinkedIn profile besides teaching public administration courses at the Metropolitan College of New York.
Jenkins’ tenure as commissioner was rocked last summer by allegations that he sought to withhold information from the public about the administration’s failure to find shelter beds for several Latin American migrant families, forcing them to sleep on floors and benches at an intake center. Julia Savel, Jenkins’ former top spokeswoman, has alleged she was fired in retaliation for raising alarm internally about the alleged coverup.
Jenkins and Adams have denied the existence of any coverup. They’ve also said Savel’s firing was not retaliatory.
The Department of Investigation launched a probe into the allegations against Jenkins after Adams admitted that the failure to house the migrants amounted to a violation of the city’s right-to-shelter law. That investigation remains “ongoing,” Department of Investigation spokeswoman Diane Struzzi said last month.
This past August, a few weeks after the investigation first came to light, Jenkins raised eyebrows again as he went on vacation in Mexico while the city’s shelter system entered a state of crisis amid a massive influx of migrants.
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