Hook a brother up—or maybe not. New York City Mayor Eric Adams gave his younger sibling Bernard a demotion after allegations of nepotism caught fire throughout the Big Apple.
The younger Adams, 56, was initially appointed as NYPD deputy commissioner, a role that comes with a salary of $240K. The mayor-elect also put his brother in charge of other elected officials’ security details, too.
However, per NYC law, it is illegal for public servants to use their positions “to obtain any financial gain” on behalf of themselves, family, friends, and anyone else close to them. So Mayor Adams scaled back his brother’s duties some and gave Bernard Adams a different title instead: executive director of mayoral security. Along with a $30K pay cut, the younger Adams will only be responsible for Hizzoner.
“Personal security — my life, my life — I want in the hands of my brother with his 20-year law enforcement experience,” Mayor Adams said, according to the New York Times. “He has the police experience, but he also has the personal experience. He knows his brother, and he’s going to keep his brother safe.”
Bernard Adams actually became city deputy commissioner on December 30, 2021, two days before his brother’s inauguration. However, the Adams administration only contacted the Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) about the ethicality and morality of the move on January 7, 2022 – the very same day Bernard Adams was publicly announced as deputy commish.
Understandably, not everyone is on board with the downgrade. First, the mayor’s office has been vague as to whether the position of exec. dir. of mayoral security ever existed before now. Second, based on the outlined requirements of this new role, it remains unclear what exactly qualifies the younger Adams to protect his older brother.
Richard Briffault, Columbia professor and the former chair of the COIB, told the NYT he believes Mayor Adams is skirting the law. “This does appear to be a serious problem… A public servant, which includes the mayor, can’t use his position as mayor to obtain a financial gain for a sibling,” Briffault said.
City Hall hasn’t said what it plans to do should the COIB revoke Bernard Adams’ nomination altogether. And Mayor Adams wouldn’t be the first mayor to hire a family member or close associate to a high-level position. He would be setting a new precedent with being the first one to give a salary, though. (Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani did hire family members during his tenure and pay them, too, but none held any high positions.)