What Happens If Mayor Adams is Indicted for Federal Crimes?
Mayor Adams is in trouble.
Federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. are conducting a broad public corruption investigation into whether Mayor Eric Adams’s 2021 election campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign donations, according to a search warrant obtained by The New York Times.
In the next days, or weeks or months Mayor Adams will be indicted or the investigation will fade into the dustbin of history. George Santos was charged with a long list of federal crimes and refused to step down, the only remedy was 2/3 of the House of Representatives expelling Santos and after two previous failures a scathing report from the Ethics Committee convinced sufficient members: Santos was expelled.
What happens if Adams is indicted?
The City Charter regulations are specific and grant the power to remove a mayor in the hands of the governor.
The mayor may be removed from office by the governor upon charges and after service upon him of a copy of the charges and an opportunity to be heard in his defense. Pending the preparation and disposition of charges, the governor may suspend the mayor for a period not exceeding thirty days.
The decision is solely in the hands of the governor.
Whether suspended or removed the Charter is clear: powers and duties shall devolve upon the public advocate
A vacancy triggers a timeline leading to an election to fill the position.
Within three days of the occurrence of a vacancy in the office of the mayor, the person acting as mayor shall proclaim the date for the election or elections required by this subdivision,
: A special election to fill the vacancy shall be held on the first Tuesday at least eighty days after the occurrence of the vacancy
Depending upon the date of the vacancy a primary election will select candidates before the general election or be scheduled along with the June primary or November general election.
Elections in New York City are Ranked Choice Voting elections.
I know, many “what ifs,” the City Charter is written in legalese and the many permutations may be litigated
Now, the fun part: Who are the potential candidates?
The list of potential candidates is long, really long.
Jumaane Williams, the Public Advocate would fill the position of mayor on an acting basis until the subsequent election fills the position. Williams would run, nothing to lose, if he fails he returns as Public Advocate.
Andrew Cuomo has a pile of dollars in his election account.
Brad Lander, the Comptroller, was planning to run against Adams in the next election.
The Socialist Workers of America would run a candidate.
A number of Albany legislators might jump into the race.
And then folks with dollars, Andrew Yang, or some Wall Street billionaire, or maybe Bloomberg.
The last Sanitation Commissioner, Katherine Garcia ran and finished a very close second, the current commissioner, Jessica Tisch gets high marks from everyone,
The key player is the governor who could say until Adams is convicted or resigns he’s the mayor or can we have a mayor with a serious federal indictment interfering with the running of the city.
Will she flex her “good government” muscles and remove a sitting mayor and risk alienating the Black political establishment?
Hochul signed the Class Size bill into law as Lee Zelden was closing the election gap and the teacher unions across the state got out the troops; Hochul also took $5M from Bloomberg to try and force the legislature to support her housing bill in exchange for lifting the New York City Charter cap. Does she blow in the wind? Is she indebted to Adams, or, would she rather move on to another mayor?
So far the story has grabbed the headlines for only a few days and on to the next headline, if tidbits keep dropping the pressure on Adams will mount, and, under the law the governor can suspend the mayor for up to thirty days.
In the meantime the budget process moves forward, the unions and advocacy groups will continue to toss brickbats at Gracie Mansion, the Governor’s State of the State speech on the first Wednesday in January and Yankee and Mets baseball signings will dominate the news.
Mayors have resigned, Jimmy Walker (1926-32), described as a “flamboyant man-about-town” (sound familiar) resigned, actually pushed out on the eve of the FDR 1932 election, a wonderful, salacious saga. Read here.
The Feds can drop breadcrumbs by executing other search warrants or/and indict possible co-conspirators hinting “we’re coming for you.”
Meanwhile I’ll be working on my testimony for the mayoral control hearing – any suggestions?
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