Six Indicted In Donation Scheme Tied To NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ Campaign

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Six people were charged with conspiracy for their roles in an alleged scheme designed to maximize the amount of city money directed toward New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ 2021 election campaign using straw donations, though the indictment doesn’t indicate Adams was involved.

Prosecutors allege Dwayne Montgomery, a former New York police inspector who had worked with Adams, was the leader of the scheme and potentially arranged more than two dozen straw donations—donations funded by one person but made under other peoples’ names—to maximize money going to Adams’ campaign.

The indictment alleges the six men conspired to “fraudulently obtain tens of thousands of dollars in matching funds” for Adams’ campaign “by submitting falsified campaign contribution forms to the New York City Campaign Finance Board.”

Adams isn’t implicated in the indictment, but Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement Montgomery and one of the others were seeking “influence for themselves and their associates” who hoped to do business with the city if Adams was elected; Bragg didn’t outline a motive for the other four men involved.

In the 2021 election, New York City had an eight-to-one matching program for a city resident’s first $250 donation, making each donation made by the straw donors—which was usually about $250, according to the indictment—worth about $2,000 when matched with public funds from the city Campaign Finance Board.

The six defendants are charged with conspiracy, attempted grand larceny and offering a false instrument; four of them, including Montgomery, pleaded not guilty on Friday, and the other two have not been arraigned.

Adams’ had previously been reprimanded by the Campaign Finance Board when his transition committee was fined $19,600 in May for violating campaign finance rules, including accepting donations from individuals doing business with the city and failing to wind down the committee by its deadline, the New York Times reported.

“We allege a deliberate scheme to game the system in a blatant attempt to gain power,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a statement Friday. “The New York City Campaign Finance Board program is meant to support our democracy and amplify the voices of New York City voters. When the integrity of that program is corrupted, all New Yorkers suffer.”

“There is no indication that the campaign or the mayor is involved in this case or under investigation. The campaign always held itself to the highest standards and we would never tolerate these actions,” Evan Thies, a spokesperson for Adams’ campaign, told NBC News.

Adams was elected as New York City mayor in 2021, beating out 12 other candidates in a highly-contested election. There were at least 23 straw donors in this scheme, according to the indictment. New York City’s campaign finance match program is designed to allow a more diverse pool of candidates to run for office and encourage them to fundraise from average citizens rather than high-brow donors, according to the program website. The program is available to anyone running for municipal office—like mayor, public advocate, borough president—as long as the candidate collects a minimum number of contributions from their area and raises a minimum amount of qualifying contributions from residents. There is a limit on the amount of public funds each candidate can receive—just over $7 million for the mayor—and the money can only be spent to further their campaign.

Indictment (Manhattan District Attorney)

6 charged in alleged straw donor scheme to benefit NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ campaign (NBC News)

6 charged in alleged straw donor scheme to help get Eric Adams elected New York City mayor (AP)

Eric Adams’s Transition Team Is Fined $19,600 for Violations (New York Times)

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