FBI agents seized the cell phones of New York City Mayor Eric Adams as part of a federal investigation into campaign fundraising, a person familiar with the matter told CNN on Friday.
The agents seized the phones and an iPad earlier this week pursuant to a court authorized search warrant, the person said.
The New York Times first reported the search.
The seizure is a dramatic escalation of the federal probe, bringing it directly to the mayor, a Democrat. The investigation is being handled by the FBI and the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
“As a former member of law enforcement, I expect all members of my staff to follow the law and fully cooperate with any sort of investigation — and I will continue to do exactly that,” the mayor said in a statement to CNN on Friday. “I have nothing to hide.”
Adams’ campaign attorney and spokesperson, Boyd Johnson, told CNN the mayor “immediately complied with the FBI’s request and provided them with electronic devices” after the FBI approached Adams following an event Monday night.
“After learning of the federal investigation, it was discovered that an individual had recently acted improperly. In the spirit of transparency and cooperation, this behavior was immediately and proactively reported to investigators,” Johnson said.
“The mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing and continues to cooperate with the investigation,” he added.
The seizure came days after the FBI raided the home of Adams’ chief fundraiser as part of the investigation to determine whether the mayor’s 2021 campaign conspired with a Brooklyn-based construction company to funnel foreign money into campaign coffers.
Law enforcement officials who are familiar with last week’s search warrants told CNN the investigators are seeking evidence that foreign nationals – who are barred from making contributions – may have “bundled” donations by going into New York’s Turkish American communities and getting US citizens of Turkish origin to act as “straw contributors.”
The alleged scheme would have allowed money coming from foreign business entities to be masked as donations from American citizens who did not actually donate the money.
Teams of FBI agents executed “numerous search warrants” at homes and businesses throughout the New York area on November 2, including one at the home of chief fundraiser for Adams’ campaign, Brianna Suggs, multiple law enforcement sources told CNN.
Adams last week called Suggs “a real professional,” according to CNN affiliate WCBS.
Source : CNN