Who Is Eric Adams? That Depends.


Yet like any worthy storyteller, Mr. Adams has made choices about what to emphasize and what to elide, carefully guarding certain pieces of himself and working to recast others.

When his mother died earlier this year, he surprised friends by not publicly revealing it for months, even as he continued speaking about her on the campaign trail. He instructed siblings not to write about her on social media because it might create a “circus,” according to a comment on Facebook from one of his brothers.

He speaks little of his first campaign: a congressional run in 1994, when he did not make the ballot, claiming his petition signatures had been stolen. Police said at the time that they had turned up no evidence of this. Mr. Adams also jumped to the Republican Party during the Giuliani administration and has strained to explain why, by turns calling the move a protest against failed Democratic leadership and saying he ultimately regretted the whole thing.

Even his political origin story, his teenage arrest, has shifted over time. He had long said that he and his older brother entered the home of a prostitute to take money she owed them for running errands. “We went into this prostitute’s apartment,” Mr. Adams said in 2015.

In his interview with The Times, the woman had been refashioned to “a go-go dancer who we were helping that broke her leg.” If she had been a prostitute, he added, “I don’t know about that.”

Other amendments to, and exclusions from, Mr. Adams’s autobiography have ranged from the procedural to the absurd. His political runs have prompted inquiries from election authorities and assorted fines. For years, he did not register his rental property in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, with the city, as required. He also failed to report rental income to the federal government and blamed his accountant, whom Mr. Adams said last year he had had difficulty finding because the man was living in a homeless shelter.

The last days of the primary were shadowed by questions of whether Mr. Adams even lived in New York: After a Politico article chronicled confusion about where he spent his nights, Mr. Adams invited cameras into the Brooklyn property, where he said he resided. The campaign hoped the tour would quell suspicions that Mr. Adams actually lived in Fort Lee, N.J., where he owns a co-op with his longtime companion, Tracey Collins. It did not. Reporters noted the Brooklyn space included non-vegan food and sneakers that appeared to belong to Mr. Adams’s adult son, Jordan Coleman.



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