Eric Adams' legal defense fund drops longtime ally after crude comments

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NEW YORK — One of Mayor Eric Adams’ fundraising entities on Wednesday fired the security and private investigative firm run by longtime friend and donor Bo Dietl shortly after Dietl berated a POLITICO reporter.

Dietl’s company was hired to vet donors to Adams’ legal defense trust — a fundraising entity to help pay legal bills connected to a federal probe into Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign. In January, the organization paid Dietl’s firm just under $13,000 — an expense first reported by the Daily News, whose reporter Dietl reportedly cursed at this week.

When asked for comment Wednesday afternoon about the services he was paid to perform for the trust, Dietl told a POLITICO reporter: “Why don’t you do me a favor. Go suck somebody’s dick, because I don’t want to talk to you, OK? You like to suck dick? Go suck dick somewhere.” He then hung up the phone.

Less than two hours after being informed of Dietl’s remarks, the trust’s counsel, Vito Pitta, condemned Dietl and told POLITICO he would be let go.

“The mayor believes that that language is unacceptable, and that no person should talk to another person in such a disrespectful way,” Pitta said in a statement.

The Democratic New York mayor almost never publicly admonishes or fires problematic aides, particularly ones with whom he has a long history, like Dietl — a fellow New York Police Department alum.

Dietl’s hiring — and his abrupt ouster — mark the latest twists in his long-standing relationship with the mayor and City Hall. As POLITICO previously reported, a close Adams aide tried unsuccessfully to hire Dietl to oversee security at a migrant tent facility.

His connection to the legal defense trust, outlined in a mandatory filing released this week, puts him in company with luxury fashion designers, a billionaire helping GOP House candidates in New York and the head of a nursing home chain whose donations were returned by Adams in 2021 in a show of solidarity with unions.

The trust has raked in more than $1.2 million since it was created last year.

And according to new data covering the first three months of the year, $40,000 came from nursing home executive Avery Eisenreich and his family members.

Eisenreich’s company, Alaris Health, was found in a series of 2018 rulings to have violated labor laws by the National Labor Relations Board owing to a dispute with members of 1199SEIU, a politically powerful healthcare union. When Adams was running for mayor in 2021, his campaign twice vowed to return around $10,000 in contributions from Eisenreich and his family, citing the mayor’s pro-labor history.

But this year, Adams’ legal defense trust accepted four times that sum from Eisenreich and his kin.

According to Pitta, legal defense funds operate differently than campaigns because donations can only be returned by the fund’s trustee — in this case, Peter Aschkenasy, a restaurateur and longtime Adams ally. Pitta, who also serves as the compliance attorney for Adams’ campaigns, declined to comment when asked if the Eisenreichs’ donations to the trust would be returned. Eisenreich did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Among the dozens of other donors were benefactors connected to Adams’ campaigns, his tenure at City Hall and even his after-hours activities.

The wife of the owner of the mayor’s go-to nightclub Zero Bond, Alexandra Rizzo, gave $5,000. Adams appointed the owner himself, Scott Sartiano, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art board in 2022. Rizzo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adam Beren, a billionaire Kansas oil magnate who frequently donates to Republicans across the country, also gave the maximum donation of $5,000. Among Beren’s other benefactors in New York are GOP incumbents Nick LaLota and Mike Lawler, whose elections this year could decide control of the House.

In 2022, a group backed by Beren, the Combat Antisemitism Movement, paid for Adams to travel to Greece for a conference on antisemitism. The organization then footed the bill for the mayor’s plane ticket to Qatar for what was billed as a fact-finding mission to the World Cup ahead of New York and New Jersey’s role as hosts for the 2026 games. Beren did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The fashion and design world also came to Adams’ aid: The trust received three $5,000 contributions from designer Elie Tahari, his wife and the company’s former CEO Rory Tahari and their son Jeremey Tahari, who attended the same one-year anniversary party for a NoMad hotel as Adams last year. The Taharis did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Shoe designer Vanessa Noel chipped in another $5,000. Noel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pitta declined to comment on the donations.

Seven of the contributions to the fund since Jan. 1 did not comply with a city ethics board rule barring people doing business with the city from contributing, a POLITICO analysis found. Pitta said those donations had been refunded, though the refunds do not appear on the board’s public spreadsheet of refunded donations.

When asked by POLITICO last month about donations from Trina and Sarah Cayre, whose husbands both do business with the city, Pitta said their donations had been refunded. Their names also do not appear on the spreadsheet of refunds.