A City Hall staffer has been identified as the individual whom Mayor Eric Adams’ attorney said last week was reported to the FBI after acting “improperly” amid the ongoing federal investigation into Hizzoner’s 2021 campaign, a source close to the investigation confirmed to amNewYork Metro.
The individual Mayor Eric Adams’ attorney said was reported to the FBI for allegedly acting “improperly” amid the ongoing federal investigation into his campaign was revealed in published reports late Wednesday and confirmed to amNewYork Metro by a source close to the investigation.
Last Friday Adams’ attorney Boyd Johnson said an unidentified individual had been reported after acting inappropriately following revelations that the FBI had confiscated the mayor’s electronic devices. The person was confirmed by a source familiar with the investigation to be City Hall staffer Rana Abbasova on Thursday, news that was first reported by the New York Post and Daily News late Wednesday.
Abbasova is currently listed as the director of protocol in the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs (MOIA) on City Hall’s website. Mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy did not deny that Abbasova is the staffer alleged to have acted improperly, while saying that the staffer was immediately placed on leave in a statement.
“As we have repeatedly said, we recently learned of an individual who acted improperly, which we promptly reported to investigators,” Levy said. “This individual was a junior staffer who was immediately placed on leave, and still remains on leave today. While we continue to cooperate with investigators, the most important thing to remember is that the mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing.”
The mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Adams and his chief counsel Lisa Zornberg had refused to identify the individual Johnson mentioned in his statement during a Tuesday press conference, insisting they do not want to comment so as to avoid impeding the ongoing inquiry. Zornberg did say she has seen “no indication” that the mayor is a target of the investigation.
Neither City Hall nor the mayor’s campaign would say what behavior led them to report Abbasova to the FBI.
According to her City Hall bio, Abbasova’s role at MOIA entails her working to “foster closer relationships between the city of New York and the broader diplomatic community. She manages engagements with foreign dignitaries and entities related to the mayor and [MOIA Commissioner Manuel Castro].”
Before joining the mayoral administration, according to her bio, Abbasova worked for Adams in his previous role as Brooklyn borough president, where she was a community coordinator and advisor.
The staffer also had her electronics, including her cell phone, seized by the federal investigators, the Daily News reported.
The revelation is the latest development in a sprawling investigation into whether Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign coordinated with the Turkish government to funnel illegal foreign donations into its coffers through straw donors associated with a Brooklyn-based construction company — KSK Construction Group — and a Washington D.C. based university with ties to Turkey — Bay Atlantic University.
The probe — led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York — exploded into public view when the feds raided the Brooklyn home of Adams’ head fundraiser, 25-year-old Brianna Suggs, on Nov. 2.
It was then revealed last Friday that the FBI stopped Adams on the street on Nov. 5 and seized two of his cell phones and his iPad. Following that, it came to light that federal investigators are in-part focusing on whether Adams, when he was still borough president but had already won the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary, had that year pressured former FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro to speed up approvals for a Turkish consulate building in Midtown Manhattan.
But the mayor on Tuesday insisted that interaction is above board and that he was simply doing the job of a public official by reaching out on behalf of his constituents — in this case, Brooklyn’s Turkish community.
“You reach out to an agency and ask them to look into a matter, you don’t reach out to an agency to compel them to do anything because I had no authority to do so, I was the Brooklyn borough president,” Adams said Tuesday. “So yes, I reached out to the commissioner to assist, to find out what was happening and ask him to look at that.”