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Newsweek 90: The Eric Adams’ Corruption Probe Could Force Democrats To Improve Their 2024 Messaging | Opinion

By Arick Wierson and Bradley Honan | Nov 17, 2023 | Original Article

The mayoralty of Eric Adams is in hot water. And if it’s up to GOP operatives, President Joe Biden and Democrats across the country will feel the heat.

First came news of an early morning FBI raid of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ chief fund-raiser, Brianna Suggs, where agents seized a cache of iPhones, laptops, and a manila folder labeled “Eric Adams,” among other items. The presence of federal agents at the Brooklyn home of the 25-year-old Suggs, who Adams hand-picked as his chief fund-raiser for his 2021 race for mayor, was so disconcerting to hizzoner that he rushed home from a scheduled meeting at the White House to run damage control.

Then just a few days later, in a scene that could have been ripped straight from the script of a Netflix political thriller, FBI agents surrounded the mayor’s motorcade and pulled rank on his armed security detail, issuing a search warrant and jumping into his vehicle to seize an iPad and a pair of cell phones.

Although the official details are still somewhat scant, the probe seems to be looking into, at a minimum, an array of campaign finance irregularities possibly involving illegal foreign contributions linked to Turkey.

Already Team Adams has attempted to offer up the mayor’s head of protocol as a scapegoat. The staffer has been placed on leave, but as anyone who knows the innerworkings of City Hall can attest, the mayoral protocol chief is such a highly sensitive position that not just anyone is picked to fill it. While Mike Bloomberg was mayor, the person entrusted to vet which foreign diplomats and visiting leaders would have access to him was his very own sister, who took on the job without pay.

Despite the official stance coming from City Hall is along the lines of “nothing to see here,” or as Adams recently quipped to a local reporter, “Where’s there’s smoke, there’s not always fire,” suddenly, the man with the “second toughest job in America” and one of the Democratic Party‘s most high-profile elected officials is playing defense.

But for Republicans in New York and across the country, the Adams imbroglio is an early Christmas present in the form of a political annuity that will continue to pay dividends throughout 2024.

Although he has yet to be charged with any wrongdoing, the scandal surrounding Eric Adams will likely take months to play itself out, while each new leaked detail of the investigation will give GOP operatives a fresh news cycle to push out a counternarrative that Democrats are the dirtier of the two parties.

While many prominent Democrats have made it clear that they plan to make the 2024 election a referendum on former President Donald Trump’s 91 criminal indictments—unprecedented among major presidential contenders—the growing stench of corruption surrounding leading Democrats is also growing increasingly pungent with each passing week:

—A recent poll conducted by CNN found that 61 percent of Americans believe that Joe Biden was involved with his son’s business dealings with China and Ukraine while he served as vice president, and 42 percent believe that the elder Biden acted illegally. Moreover, 55 percent say that Joe Biden has acted inappropriately regarding the investigation of Hunter Biden.

—U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted on corruption charges for allegedly being paid in gold bars and a luxury vehicle in exchange for assisting the government of Egypt gain access to more powerful assault weapons.

—Last fall, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul of New York attempted to push through an 11th-hour $850 million subsidy for the new Buffalo Bills stadium—a move that would have handsomely lined the pockets of her own husband, who is a senior executive for the company that manages the stadium’s concession operations. And that’s on top of Hochul’s previous move to award a political donor a $637 million no bid state contract for overly expensive COVID-19 test kits.

If there is a silver-lining for Democrats, it may be that the Adams scandal forces them to re-evaluate a reelection strategy that, at least thus far, seems centered on attacking Trump as corrupt and bad for democracy—a line of messaging that polling indicates is failing to register with voters. Ironically, perhaps the slow drip of bad news coming out of City Hall might spark the “Biden Deux” effort into pivoting to issues that more Americans actually care about—such as the economy, an area where recent polling demonstrates that Trump is seen as much stronger than Biden.

Worthy of a Netflix movie with a twist at the end—perhaps the heat surrounding Adams will light a fire under Democrats to switch to a campaign message that will resonate better with voters come next November.

Arick Wierson is a six-time Emmy Award-winning television producer and served as a senior media and political adviser to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He advises corporate clients on communications strategies in the United States, Africa, and Latin America.

Bradley Honan is the president and CEO of Honan Strategy Group a polling and political consulting group.