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NYC mayor changes plan to hire brother: Now, just $1 a year

January 27, 2022 Jennifer Peltz, Associated Press
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New York Mayor Eric Adams has backed off plans for a $210,000-a-year, city-paid security job for his brother, who will now volunteer instead as an advisor.

Adams’ office confirmed the change Thursday, after the city Conflicts of Interest Board granted a waiver for Bernard Adams to serve as “senior advisor for mayoral security.” The retired New York Police Department sergeant will make $1 a year, so he can officially be a city employee.

“It was never about the money. My brother wants to be here with his brother, and when it comes down to personal security, you know, what is more important than to have someone you trust?” the mayor told Spectrum News NY1 on Thursday. “I’m blessed to be able to have my brother.”

Adams’ administration has repeatedly rejiggered Bernard Adams’ proposed role. The new mayor, a Democrat who took office Jan. 1, initially tapped his brother as a deputy police commissioner, a move that raised questions about lines of authority in a department with a brand-new commissioner.

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Then, as the mayor’s office began work on seeking Conflicts of Interest Board approval, the plan shifted to making Bernard Adams the $210,000-a-year head of the mayor’s security detail, which is staffed by police officers and housed under the NYPD.

Mayoral spokesperson Maxwell Young said Bernard Adams then offered to work for $1 annually “to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

The city charter bars public servants from using their position to obtain “any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect” for themselves or an associate, including a sibling. The Conflicts of Interest Board, an independent agency that enforces the law, can issue waivers if it finds that an official’s conduct doesn’t run counter to the city’s “purposes and interests.”

The board granted waivers for the city’s last mayor, Democrat Bill de Blasio, to appoint his wife as the unpaid chair of the city’s charitable arm, and for Republican-turned-independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s sister to serve unpaid as the city’s commissioner for the United Nations. (After leaving office, Bloomberg became a Democrat.)

Adams argued that his brother has “extensive NYPD training and experience, a demonstrated track record of community engagement and a well-developed and detailed understanding of the mayor himself, including his behaviors and his mindset when in more public, higher-risk locations,” according to a Wednesday letter from conflicts board Chairperson Jeffrey Friedlander to the mayor’s top lawyer.

In his new post, Bernard Adams will weigh in on security and communications with people to ensure the mayor’s safety as he goes around town, but he won’t oversee any police officers or other public servants, the letter said.

Adams will stay out of any decisions about his brother’s job, leaving that to First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo, the letter said.

While Bernard Adams will make only $1 for the full-time advisory role, he’ll still have his police pension and retiree health insurance.

Until recently, the 56-year-old had been working as a parking administrator at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Both brothers were NYPD officers for decades. Eric Adams, now 61, retired as a captain in 2006.

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