New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams' recent trip to Puerto Rico is raising some questions after it was learned that he traveled there on a Bitcoin billionaire's private jet — but the city's next leader insists he did nothing wrong.
On Election Night, after winning in a landslide, Adams partied with cryptocurrency billionaire Brock Pierce at the swanky Lower Manhattan club Zero Bond. Two days later, he tweeted that he would take his first three paychecks in bitcoin when he becomes mayor — and later that day, caught a ride to the island destination on Pierce's private jet.
Adams was visiting Puerto Rico for a political conference about issues important to Hispanic communities. The mayor-elect insisted he paid personally for his trip.
"It's on my dollar, my dime and my time. I've learned the best way to get people out your business is to cut your own check," Adams told reporters.
After Politico reported on the plane ride today, an Adams spokesman said the mayor-elect paid market value for two seats on Pierce's plane. However, the spokesman declined to say how much was spent or show receipts, saying only that no government of campaign funds were used for his travel or lodging, nor was any part of his travel gifted to him.
Pierce was not able to be reached for comment on Tuesday. He has donated to the Adams campaign and praised him publicly for his promise to create a crypto friendly environment.
"I'm incredibly excited about what can be done in New York … they are the ones who are going to lead us into the future," he said previously in a TV interview.
While pierce's business interests and Adams'sinterest in crypto are aligned, Adams viewed the Puerto Rico trip as personal, not business. An aide said they won't show receipts, because going forward they want to keep private matters private if unrelated to public responsibilities.
The city's current mayor came to Adams' defense on Tuesday.
"I think Eric Adams has a real moral center. I've known him a long time," Bill de Blasio said during a press conference. "I'm sure he will figure out the right way to handle these things. I wouldn't focus on this moment."
Under conflicts of interest rules, NYC officials like Adams are not permitted to accept gifts from people with business before the city. The Adams team says those rules do not apply here, adding that since Adams paid, the jet ride was not a gift.
Pierce's company does not have business before the city, the Adams team added, at least not yet.