Eric Adams gave reporters a tour of his Brooklyn home on Wednesday, marking one of the more surreal moments in a mayoral race that has already featured plenty of surprising twists.
Following a Politico report a day earlier that raised questions about where Adams lives, reporters and camera crews took turns ogling the Brooklyn borough president’s subterranean residence inside of a three-story row house in Bedford-Stuyvesant that he owns.
“We never brought the press on our block,” Adams said, during an emotional press conference prior to the tour. Joined by his 25-year-old son, Jordan Coleman, the former NYPD captain recalled a decades-old incident in which his car windows were shot out shortly after the birth of his son, an anecdote he occasionally recalls on the campaign trail to explain the risks he took as an internal critic of the police force.
“I wanted to shield them from reality,” he said, referring to his family. “I became very private.”
The Politico story had all the makings of a juicy scoop late in the race, detailing conflicting public records about his multiple properties, including a New Jersey apartment he owns with his girlfriend. Reporters soon began studying Zoom backgrounds in which Adams has appeared in front of over the past few months.
Last year, Adams famously took up residence at Brooklyn Borough Hall during the height of the COVD-19 pandemic, a move that he promoted as a testament of his dedication.
On the campaign trail, he has consistently contrasted his behavior with that of rival Andrew Yang, who last March fled the city with his family for their second home in New Paltz.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Adams strongly pushed back against suggestions that he may be living in New Jersey with his girlfriend. In addition to the Bed-Stuy building, he co-owns an apartment with his girlfriend, Tracey Collins, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
His campaign clarified that a co-op in Prospect Heights listed under his name in public records was purchased years ago with a former girlfriend, but that Adams has since sold his stake back to her.
“It’s really silly to even insinuate," he said. "How foolish someone would have to be to run for the mayor of the city of New York and live in another municipality?"
Afterwards, Evan Thies, a campaign spokesman, said that Adams had not seen his girlfriend, who works as an educator, in two months until this past Saturday. He said he planned on introducing her to the public prior to the primary.
Adams purchased the Bed-Stuy residence in 2002 and has lived there in stretches, the most recent beginning in 2017, according to his campaign. He rents the other two apartments in the building.
Rival campaigns immediately seized on the Politico story.
Maya Wiley’s campaign sent out a statement that included the open-ended exclamation: WTF?!?!
Kathryn Garcia, the city's sanitation commissioner whose campaign has showed signs of momentum, issued a statement saying that Adams "has a problematic record of not being fully honest or transparent with the voters of New York."
“As we recover from Covid, the last thing we need is a career politician with a hidden agenda at City Hall," she added. "Our city cannot recover if the mayor lacks integrity.”
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Andrew Yang chuckled over the controversy.
“He probably lives in New Jersey," he said.
The evening before his campaign issued a list of questions for Adams that ended with: “How are the traffic problems in Fort Lee? What are you hiding?”
Yang later called on Adams to release his EZPass records.
Evan Thies, a campaign spokesman for Adams said the candidate uses his mother's car to drive to New Jersey and that they welcomed anyone to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act. On Thursday, however, he said that he was mistaken and that Adams does not use his mother's car to drive to New Jersey.
Adams also on Thursday released his EZPass records on his city vehicle, which show fewer than a dozen trips to New Jersey over a recent yearlong span.
In a recent poll, Adams has pulled ahead of his competitors in the crowded mayoral race. He drew criticism earlier in the week for pulling out of a scheduled debate hosted by WCBS-TV, but he is required to participate in a final debate next week hosted by the City’s Campaign finance board.
During one of the tours with reporters on Wednesday, Adams was asked to reveal the contents of his refrigerator, which included sausage links and salmon. Adams is a known vegan, and a spokesperson for the campaign said the non-vegan items belonged to Adam’s son, who is attending graduate school in New York City and periodically stays with his father.
Some pointed out it looked very different from the contents of the fridge photo he shared in 2017:
Asked why his neighbors told a City Limits reporter they did not know he lived on the block, Adams replied, “I’m up at 5:30 in the morning. I work two jobs...It’s not a mystery where I am.”
On Wednesday, several neighbors said they were aware that Adams lived on the block, with one resident calling him a "good neighbor."
The story has been updated to say that Adams sold his stake in a Prospect Heights apartment that he owned with a former girlfriend. A campaign spokesman also later corrected an earlier remark on when Adams last saw his current girlfriend.