New York City

Eric Adams’ transition committee has brought in nearly $2 million

The mayor has until April 30 to spend it on an inauguration ceremony – or give the money back.

Eric Adams at Zero Bond on election night.

Eric Adams at Zero Bond on election night. Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Haute Living

New York City Mayor Eric Adams raised almost $2 million to host his inauguration at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. Then the party got postponed indefinitely due to rising cases of COVID-19 in New York City, but the New York City Campaign Finance Board now says Adams has until the end of April to spend that money.

Adams’ transition committee raised $952,659 in the first three weeks of December, keeping pace with the $988,478 that he brought in the first month after being elected. That $1.94 million total slightly trails the $2.08 million that former Mayor Bill de Blasio raised in 2013 ahead of his first inauguration.

Major donors in the past month include real estate developers MaryAnne Gilmartin and  Abby Elbaum and hedge fund managers Paul Tudor Jones and John Paulson. Isaac Ash, the founder of clothing company United Legwear & Apparel Co., and cosmetics heir and conservative donor Ron Lauder all gave the maximum allowable donation of $5,100. Ash and Lauder were major donors to Common Sense NYC, a super PAC focused on electing politically moderate New York City Council members.

A report detailing the transition committee’s activities from Dec. 1 and Dec. 31 was due the Campaign Finance Board on Jan. 7, but the details haven’t been previously reported.

While it raised nearly $2 million, Adams’ transition committee spent just $394,861 through Dec. 31. Most of that spending was on staff salaries for people involved with the transition and hiring in the Adams administration. Katie Moore, Adams’ campaign manager who was recently hired by Red Horse Strategies, has been paid $28,000. The consulting firm owned by Tiffany Raspberry, who has been hired as senior adviser for external affairs in City Hall, was paid $23,000. The mayor himself was reimbursed by the transition committee in three separate payments totaling $1,952.80, labeled as “advance repayment.”

The committee has also refunded $80,786 to donors, many of which seemed to be triggered by individual donors trying to give more than the $5,100 limit. But more refunds may be coming. City campaign finance law normally requires “Transition & Inauguration Entities” to be zeroed out by Jan. 31, and remaining money can be returned to donors. But that’s been extended to April 30 “due to health and logistical considerations caused by COVID-19,” according to guidance on the board’s website. It noted that the extended deadline applies only to inauguration spending, not transition matters. And candidates are reminded they’re only allowed to have only one inaugural event – “whether you hold it before January 31st or April 30th.”

That leaves Adams with $1,466,259 to spend on a rescheduled inauguration event. Sources close to Adams say the committee intends to still hold an inauguration event, but details about a time and location haven’t been set yet.

Adams’ committee didn’t report accepting any donations after Dec. 20, and the vast majority of the money, all but $2,225, came in by Dec. 15. Adams canceled a series of fundraisers in mid-December – including one with controversial public relations maven Ronn Torossian – with the explanation that he’d already raised enough money. 

“The transition’s fundraising effort in November was extremely successful, bringing in enough donations to pay for both the inauguration and staff to help prepare the mayor-elect’s administration to hit the ground running on Day 1,” transition committee spokesperson Evan Thies told The New York Times in December.