Mayor Adams’ inauguration committee is facing accusations that it accepted illicit contributions and violated other campaign finance rules before and after Adams took office last year, according to city records.
A notice made public this week states that the city Campaign Finance Board will hold a meeting Wednesday to review allegations that Adams’ inauguration committee raked in “prohibited donations,” failed to ”properly wind down” its operations and didn’t respond to the board’s “requests for information and documentation.”
The notice does not elaborate on the nature of the claims, and a spokesman for the board declined to comment Tuesday.
However, a Daily News review of campaign finance records indicates the “prohibited donations” accusation may involve individuals who gave money to the Adams committee despite having business before the city government.
Under local campaign finance laws, individuals who bid on city contracts or otherwise engage in business with the municipal government are prohibited from giving any money to mayoral candidates’ inaugural committees. Such individuals have to register themselves in the city’s “Doing Business” database, which is meant to prevent pay-to-play politics.
The News was able to identify eight Adams donors who contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his inauguration committee even though they’re listed in the city’s “Doing Business” database. The donors all got their money returned to them, according to city campaign finance records. The records do not make clear when exactly the Adams committee returned the donations to them.
The Campaign Finance Board’s rules state that an inaugural committee could be “assessed a monetary penalty” if it doesn’t “immediately refund” a contribution from a “prohibited source” upon being notified.
Evan Thies, a spokesman for Adams’ 2025 reelection campaign, declined to comment Tuesday on any specifics about the accusations against the mayor’s since-defunct inaugural committee. But Thies said lawyers for the committee will appear at Wednesday’s meeting and “address the allegations with evidence as part of the normal audit process.”
The Adams committee was responsible for planning and hosting his inauguration ceremony.
In the two months after Adams’ November 2021 election, the committee raised nearly $2 million for the inauguration event initially set for Jan. 1, 2022, records show.
Due to a spike in COVID-19 cases at the time, Adams’ inauguration was canceled, and the committee reimbursed hundreds of donors for more than $800,000 in contributions that went unspent.
Tens of thousands of the remaining dollars raised were used to bankroll payments to a network of political consultants who worked for the Adams committee.
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