Last Thursday, federal agents who apparently didn’t get the memo that Halloween had come and gone scared up a search of the Brooklyn home of Brianna Suggs, a fundraiser for and close friend of New York City Mayor Eric Adams. The reason for the raid, first reported by The New York Times, wasn’t explicitly explained but appeared to be part of a public corruption investigation into whether Adams’ 2021 campaign conspired with the Turkish government and a Brooklyn-based construction company to funnel foreign money to the campaign.
Suggs was questioned by the FBI during the raid; Adams ditched several high-profile Washington, D.C., meetings about the immigration crisis plaguing his city to race home to support her. (OK, “race home to support her” is speculation; the mayor’s people didn’t give a reason for him skipping these meetings, though, according to Spectrum News, he has defended her.)
This isn’t the only law enforcement focus on people close to the mayor. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is looking into an alleged straw donor scheme cooked up by two brothers who admit to roles in an illegal fundraising scheme in which a former deputy police inspector, known socially by the mayor, was also indicted. Politico reports that Bragg has also accused the mayor’s former buildings commissioner of abusing his authority for personal gain. But Politico’s reporting makes it clear that neither Adams nor anyone in his administration is implicated in either of these alleged crimes.
So who is Suggs?
She’s loyal, a quality Adams prizes. Her history with the mayor dates back to 2017, when he was Brooklyn borough president and she was an intern (Suggs’ LinkedIn account lists her title was special liaison and women’s health analyst). After her internship, she continued at Borough Hall through the end of Adams’ term in 2021, running the office’s gender equity portfolio.
When Adams set his sights on becoming mayor, Suggs went with him. Through her campaign consulting firm Suggs Solutions, she claims to have raised $18.4 million between his primary and general campaigns. Heading up fundraising for a major mayoral campaign requires extensive compliance knowledge of campaign finance law and is quite complicated for someone so new to the career. Suggs, now 25, was 23 when she ran Adams’ fundraising.
She’s almost like family to the never-married Adams. Suggs is the goddaughter of Ingrid Lewis-Martin, a conservative Democrat (whatever that is) who, according to the Daily News, is the mayor’s top adviser and a powerful voice in City Hall.
Some people question her ethics. In August 2022, The Daily News reported that Suggs was paid to lobby on behalf of the East Broadway Mall, a Chinatown shopping center in a city-owned building, while also raising money for Adams’ re-election effort ahead of his 2025 bid. Mixing campaign and government donations isn’t illegal but it is slimy.
“Do I think she was the mastermind behind some insane scheme? Absolutely not,” someone familiar with Adams’ inner circle told City & State New York. “She ended up in that position because (Adams) is governed by loyalty.”
Right now, her client list includes several New York political heavy hitters. Her website has Al Taylor for Assembly, the Brooklyn Democratic Party, Hercules Reid for Assembly, and Miguelina Camilo for state Senate are on that list, though it remains to be seen what might happen to those clients with her current legal troubles.
For its part, the Brooklyn Democratic Party still believes in Suggs. “I don’t know why they raided her,” Booklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn told Politico. “But I feel very confident that she didn’t do anything wrong. Brianna is a person that we consider the most highest integrity. She is smart. She knows the rules and regulations.”
Does she, though? Smarts and sitting in a federal hot seat seems like an oxymoron.
Kendra Lee is a writer based outside Washington, D.C.