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New York City Mayor Eric Adams downplayed a report revealing the workspace, housed in high-rise building, saying he'd only been there four times.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams defended his use of an office outside of City Hall on Wednesday, hours after the public was made aware for the first time of the secret working space.
Adams and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks have been working out of the Verizon Building at 375 Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, which claims to be “the most secure and resilient building” in the borough, Politico reported Wednesday. City agencies including the New York City Police Department and the Human Resources Administration already lease space in the private building, according to the story. The space designated for the mayor was a former Department of Finance conference room that has since been renovated to include more cubicles, Adams said.
In an apparent attempt to downplay the report, Adams said he has been in the building four times and uses it as a makeshift office when he can’t get back to City Hall – which is a 10-minute walk away.
“I move around to different city office spaces. Sometimes I need to do a Zoom, and I can’t get back to City Hall right away . . . sometimes I want to do a meeting in that area, it could be an elderly (person) across the street in the NYCHA and she can’t come all the way to City Hall,” Adams said at an unrelated press conference, suggesting the Politico story was a “creative” way to generate traffic.
“When you have Eric Adams’ name in a story, you get clicks,” he said, laughing. “Hey, he ate fish. Hey, he did this. I’m just a popular guy to write about.”
Despite more than a dozen staffers telling Politico that they were unaware of the secondary working space, Adams said “it’s not a secret location.” He added that city staffers are spread out in offices across the city. “We have City Hall staffers in all of these different locations, many of them.”
The Politico report was the latest revelation of Adams’ mysterious living and working quarters. Before he was even sworn in, questions were raised about where the mayor actually resides. As Brooklyn Borough President, he turned Borough Hall into a living quarters, equipped with a mattress. He owns a co-op in Fort Lee, N.J. with his partner, and has provided conflicting public records about where he lives, Politico reported during his campaign for mayor. In an attempt to quiet critics, he gave reporters a tour of the apartment he has listed as his principal address in a brownstone in Bedford-Stuyvesant – but the living space, which appeared more reflective of somewhere, say, his 26-year-old son might live, only generated more questions. Since taking office, it’s unclear how many nights he’s spent at the official mayor’s residence on the Upper East Side, Gracie Mansion. In May, Adams suggested the 18th century Federal-style home wasn’t “cool” enough for him and is also haunted by ghosts.
Furthering the perception of secrecy, he initially said he would not release his tax returns, then backtracked. He declined to report a property he partly owns in Brooklyn on his annual conflict of interest disclosures for years, before finally including it in 2022 – only after the press reported his ownership. The financial disclosure did not list the ownership of his rental property in Bedford-Stuyvesant either, and his spokesperson said the omission was due to privacy concerns, The New York Post reported.
When it comes to official business, Adams has moved away from a policy implemented by former Mayor Bill de Blasio of disclosing City Hall officials’ meetings with lobbyists, Politico reported in March. He also declined at the time to publicly release a list of lobbyists he has met with since taking office. The move follows his refusal to consistently publish his daily schedule during his Democratic primary campaign for mayor last year.
Though Adams said he moves around to different city office spaces, his administration has declined to provide the sort of detailed accounting of his public schedules which has previously been routinely published for public review. The page on the Office of the Mayor’s Freedom of Information Law tracker website, has not been updated since February 2021, when de Blasio was still in office.
As mayor, Adams has regularly been spotted taking meetings, sometimes with politically questionable figures, at restaurants and private clubs. He’s also spent time fundraising outside of New York. In March, he took a multi-day, campaign-funded trip to Los Angeles, where he hung out with comedian Dave Chappelle and participated in a panel at the Milken Institute for economic policy and research.