Mayor Eric Adams attends press conference with U. S. Senator Charles Schumer outside of Bellevue Hospital. – New York, NY – January 9, 2022 (Shutterstock)
By Gloria Pazmino,
It’s an elite and sensitive position in the upper ranks of the NYPD, it comes with a six figure salary totaling $210,000 dollars and the power to oversee personal security for all of the city’s elected officials entitled to receive it, including the mayor.
That’s the job that Bernard Adams, Mayor Eric Adams’ younger brother, has been appointed to — a job that appears to be in violation of the city’s rules on hiring family members.
“If his brother’s unique qualification is that he’s his brother, that would just destroy the entire nepotism law,” Richard Briffaul, the former chair of the city’s Conflict of Interest Board told NY1. “The city’s conflicts law pretty flatly prohibits a public official, like the mayor, from using his office to secure a financial advantage or position for a sibling.”
Bernard Adams, a retired 20-year veteran of the NYPD, began working for the city on December 30. He is assigned to oversee security for his brother. The mayor has argued his brother is the only person qualified for the job.
“If I have to put my life in someone’s hands, I want to put it in the hands of the person I trust deeply because that is a very personal process of security,” Adams said Sunday, during an unrelated press conference.
Security experts acknowledged the ethical conflict, but said trust is, after all, a key element of the job.
Keith Taylor, a professor at the John College of Criminal Justice, who formerly served on the NYPD, said the issue of trust should be weighed when it comes to the mayor’s security.
“You have to look at the mayor saying this is someone he trusts,” Taylor said. “That position of being in charge of his security detail does require a high level of trust.”
Still, it’s not clear what qualifications make Bernard Adams a unique candidate for the job. The mayor will have to make that case to the Conflict of Interest Board. Most recently, Bernard Adams, worked as assistant director for parking at Virginia Commonwealth University.
City Hall officials said Mayor Adams has started the process of requesting a waiver from the board, which would exempt him from the city’s rules regarding nepotism hires.
“There is a provision for waivers, if the public official requests and the Conflict of Interest Board finds that the waiver would be essentially in the best interest of the city,” Briffaul said. “It’s a very open ended kind of mushy standard.”
In recent days, Adams has raised the threat of white supremacy and the desire to remain accessible to New Yorkers as reasons for choosing his brother for the job. That assertion suggests that Adams is skeptical of the NYPD’s ability to guard and follow his every move.
The board will ultimately decide whether or not to issue a waiver for a set of rules that ultimately countless city workers have faced penalties for in the past.
“This has been a basis for fining and penalizing many city employees over the years who tried to get their jobs for their children, for their in-laws, for their nieces and nephews,” Briffault said. “The real question is, is the law going to apply to everybody?”