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Eric Adams’s Turkey Ties: Travel, Donations and a Meeting With Erdogan

A major federal corruption investigation into Mayor Eric Adams’s fund-raising is examining whether his campaign conspired with members of the Turkish government to receive illegal donations.

Mr. Adams, a Democrat in his second year in office, has longstanding ties to Turkey. The mayor has said that he met the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when he was Brooklyn borough president, and that he has visited the country at least six times.

Now federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. are investigating Mr. Adams’s connections to Turkey, including whether he pressured city officials to sign off on the Turkish government’s new consulate building in Manhattan and the role of a Brooklyn building company owned by Turkish immigrants that organized a fund-raising event for him.

Federal authorities raided the home of Mr. Adams’s chief fund-raiser on Nov. 2, and then seized at least two cellphones and an iPad from Mr. Adams himself. Mr. Adams has defended his links to Turkey, arguing that they were part of his outreach to immigrant communities that have not always received attention from City Hall.

Here’s what we know about the mayor’s Turkey connections.

Thousands of dollars from donors linked to Turkey

Mr. Adams has received campaign donations from Turkish immigrants and from people linked to prominent Turkish groups aligned with Mr. Erdogan, a conservative leader who took office in 2014.

Federal authorities are investigating donations from people associated with KSK Construction, which is owned by Turkish immigrants, and Bay Atlantic University in Washington, D.C., which was founded by a Turkish philanthropist, according to a search warrant reviewed by The New York Times.

The chief executive of KSK Construction, Erden Arkan, donated $1,500 to the Adams campaign in 2021, and 10 other employees of the firm made donations, according to campaign filings.

The Adams campaign received a total of $10,000 in contributions from five employees of Bay Atlantic University on Sept. 27, 2021, a week after the unveiling of the new consulate building in Manhattan, and refunded the donations the following month.

The mayor’s campaign also received donations from people associated with the Turken Foundation and the Turkish American National Steering Committee, two groups aligned with Mr. Erdogan.

The chairman of the Turken Foundation, Behram Turan, donated $3,000 to the Adams campaign in 2018, $1,000 of which was returned. The group’s treasurer, Memis Yetim, donated $1,000 in 2021 with his address listed as “Staten Island, New Jersey.”

A former treasurer for the Turkish American National Steering Committee, Murat Guzel, donated $10,100 to the Adams campaign in 2018 and was refunded $8,100. Another member of the steering committee, Ayhan Ogmen, gave the Adams campaign $2,500 that year and was refunded $500. He then gave $2,100 to the mayor’s 2025 re-election campaign this past June.

Whether Mr. Adams pressed city officials to sign off on a new high-rise building housing the Turkish consulate general in Manhattan is a focus of a broad federal corruption investigation.Credit…Sara Hylton for The New York Times

A close relationship with the Turkish consulate

Mr. Adams has a close relationship with the Turkish consulate general, which paid for part of his 2015 trip to Turkey.

Over the last four years, the Turkish consulate has posted more than two dozen photos and videos with Mr. Adams on social media.

Among the events it has posted about are Turkish Heritage Day, which Mr. Adams celebrated on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall in 2019.

He had breakfast in 2021 with Hasan Murat Mercan, the Turkish ambassador to the United States, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, the son of Turkish immigrants and eventual Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, according to a post by the consulate.

And he toured the new consulate building, Turkevi Center, shortly after he was elected mayor in November 2021.

The opening of Turkevi Center is now part of the federal investigation. In late summer 2021, Mr. Adams contacted then-Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro and urged him to allow the Turkish government to occupy the building at least on a temporary basis despite safety concerns over the building.

Mr. Adams has defended intervening in the center’s opening, saying he was involved because of his role as Brooklyn borough president, even though the building is in Manhattan. “Part of my routine role was to notify government agencies of issues on behalf of constituents and constituencies,” he said in a statement.

As mayor, Mr. Adams has continued to meet with the Turkish consul general often, including at Gracie Mansion and City Hall.

A meeting with the Turkish president

Mr. Adams said at a recent news conference that he met Mr. Erdogan during a dinner for a nonprofit when he was borough president, a job he held from 2014 until 2021.

Mr. Erdogan has left a conservative imprint on Turkish society and has received criticism for his authoritarian approach.

“He greeted me, said hello,” Mr. Adams said. “We exchanged pleasantries.”

The mayor’s top spokesman, Fabien Levy, and an adviser for his campaign, Evan Thies, declined to say when the dinner took place or which nonprofit held it.

Frequent travel to Turkey

Mr. Adams said that he had been to Turkey “six or seven times” in a radio interview in February. Three of those trips have been publicly reported.

In August 2015, the Turkish consulate in New York paid for Mr. Adams’s airfare, hotel and ground transportation for a trip to Turkey, according to financial disclosure records.

While there, Mr. Adams signed a sister-city agreement with Istanbul’s Uskudar municipality, and visited Bahcesehir University, which was founded by the same Turkish philanthropist who founded Bay Atlantic University.

Another trip months later, in December 2015, was paid for in part by a group called the Association of Young Tourism Leaders, according to the news outlet The City.

In 2017, Mr. Adams again visited Turkey with his son, Jordan Coleman, as part of a “spiritual” trip that included stops in France, China and Sri Lanka, according to Politico.

Mr. Adams has said that he loves international travel, noting at the news conference that he had been to countries in Africa seven times and to China six times.

He said that it was important to understand the Turkish community because New York City is home to one of the United States’s largest Turkish populations.

“We just thought it was a great opportunity to exchange ideas, as we do with all these countries, and we want to attract businesses here,” he said.

Mr. Levy and Mr. Thies declined to provide details about the mayor’s trips.

Flag-raising events in Turkey’s honor

As mayor, Mr. Adams has held two flag-raising events for Turkey — part of his tradition raising the flags of dozens of nations which he says is meant to honor New York’s immigrant communities.

At the first flag raising for Turkey, held last October, Mr. Adams called New York City “the Istanbul of America” and referred to the Turkish consul general, Reyhan Özgür, as “my good friend.”

Last month, Mr. Adams raised the country’s flag a second time. He provided a formal citation to Aliriza Dogan, a Turkish immigrant who runs a restaurant in Manhattan, and praised his contributions to the city. Mr. Dogan has also donated to the mayor’s campaign.

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