New York City Mayor Eric Adams is setting up a legal defense fund as the FBI and the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York continue a wide-ranging public corruption investigation into his 2021 campaign.
Unlike typical campaign donation accounts, the fund will be monitored by the city’s Conflict of Interest Board, an independent agency tasked with enforcing the city’s conflict of interest code among city employees.
City employees are allowed to set up legal defense funds to raise money to pay for certain legal bills and expenses connected with their employment, according to guidance posted by the board.
An affidavit signed by Adams this week said the Eric Adams Legal Defense Trust is “necessitated by and intended to defray legal expenses in connection with the inquiries by the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York related to the operations of the Adams 2021 mayoral campaign committee.”
Law firm Pitta LLP, which oversaw Adams’ campaign compliance, is listed in the registration of the trust.
“After consultation with the Campaign Finance Board and the Conflicts of Interest Board, it was determined that a trust should be created for any legal expenses,” said Vitto Pitta, who is representing the Adams campaign in the investigation, in a statement to CNN.
CNN previously reported that the FBI investigation into Adams is focused on campaign money, favors and possible foreign influence, according to officials briefed on the investigation.
Although he has not been accused of any wrongdoing, Adams also secured private legal representation shortly after it was first reported that his campaign was under the scrutiny of federal investigators.