List of Eric Adams Allies Hired to High-Paid Government Posts Keeps Growing
Former state Sen. Jesse Hamilton and former Brooklyn Democratic Party District Leader Tommy Torres join numerous friends and political supporters of the mayor now in top city posts.
The administration of Mayor Eric Adams has hired two more Brooklyn political allies of the mayor — part of a trend that’s seen his friends and supporters awarded top posts this year.
Former Democratic state Sen. Jesse Hamilton, an Adams protege who replaced him in the 20th Senate District after Adams was elected Brooklyn borough president in 2013, was hired as a legal counsel at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services in late August with a salary of $190,000, city records show.
Hamilton, who had served as an attorney in Adams’ Senate office, was later a member of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate that caucused with Republicans — handing the GOP majority control of the body in 2013 and 2014.
He was among six of the eight IDC members targeted successfully by progressives for their seats in the 2018 election, losing his race to attorney and current state Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn).
Another one of Hamilton’s former IDC colleagues, state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn), told NY1 on Monday that she’ll be joining the Adams administration in an unspecified role starting in January.
Adams has also brought on longtime assistant principal and former Brooklyn Democratic Party District Leader Tommy Torres to serve as a special assistant, according to sources and online posts from Torres.
Torres was appointed as one of 42 district leaders in Brooklyn by then-county chair Frank Seddio in 2016, and served through 2020, when he lost the election. District leaders are high-level party officials who appoint the county chair, nominate judges for the court system and decide on party policies and practices.
Torres was among two Brooklyn-party-backed candidates for district leader who lost their races this year after falsely portraying themselves as incumbents in communications with election poll workers, THE CITY reported in June.
He was also a volunteer on Adams’ mayoral campaign and was among the two dozen supporters who stood on stage with Adams the night he gave his election victory speech, Gothamist reported. Since his appointment, Torres has often been seen at the mayor’s side, including on a recent trip to Puerto Rico.
From Supporter to Employee
Asked about the hires, City Hall spokesperson Fabien Levy called Hamilton a dedicated public servant with a strong track record whom the city was lucky to have joining DCAS.
He said Torres’ duties include coordinating the mayor’s whereabouts and serving as a point person on special projects, but declined to provide Torres’ salary — saying it would be made available online or could be obtained through a public record request.
Hamilton and Torres didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
The two new government workers join Adams’ brother, Bernard; Adams associate and friend whose three-bedroom Brooklyn apartment he rented a room in for four years, Lisa White; and Adams’ longtime police pal Timothy Pearson in top administration positions. White and Pearson earn more than $240,000 each in salary, while Bernard Adams’ potential six-figure paycheck was reduced to $1 because of city rules against nepotism.
The husband of Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, Edu Hermelyn, who was also a party district leader, was appointed to a $190,000 administration role early this year. He resigned in March following questions from THE CITY about rules barring mayoral managers from holding political seats and in June lost his district leader seat in an election.
More than a half-dozen former City Council members who were vocal supporters of Adams’ 2021 campaign have also been hired by the administration, the New York Post first reported.
Among the backers from Team Adams who have already left, or will be gone by the end of the year, is the mayor’s first chief of staff, Frank Carone.
Eric Ulrich, who came on as a senior advisor before being appointed the commissioner of the Department of Buildings, resigned following an interview by Manhattan prosecutors during an alleged gambling investigation.
‘The Real Kingmaker’
Hamilton’s ascension to the state Senate in 2014 was seen as part of a wider battle among Democrats for political control of central Brooklyn between Adams and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn). Jeffries, who was recently selected as minority leader for Democrats in the House, backed the losing candidate, according to reports at the time.
Although Adams denied waging a proxy fight ahead of the primary, he was more boastful after Hamilton won by a significant margin.
“We didn’t win by one, or two, or three points, we kicked their ass!” Adams said at the victory party at Woodland bar in Park Slope, as reported by The Brooklyn Paper. “We showed them who the real kingmaker in Brooklyn is.”
Two years later, Hamilton joined the IDC, according to PoliticoNY, which dissolved in early 2018.
In August 2018, Hamilton proposed legislation seeking to add penalties for making 911 calls against individuals or families based on race, amid incidents where Black people — including Hamilton while he was campaigning — were harassed for doing normal activities and engaged by police.
When progressive Democrats coordinated to try and oust former IDC members in the 2018 elections, Adams gave Hamilton an unusual leg up, according to Gotham Gazette: Adams let Hamilton oversee an initiative known as participatory budgeting, where residents of the 20th Senate District got to vote on how to disperse $1 million allocated by Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Hamilton’s was the only district where a senator got to play a role in disbursing money from Borough Hall, the outlet reported at the time.
Despite Adams’ support, Hamilton lost the seat to Myrie.
A few months after the September 2018 primary, the New York Post caught Hamilton on a workday booze run in a Mercedes Benz that he allegedly leased using money from his failed campaign.
Hamilton made another unsuccessful run for office in 2020 — that time trying to oust progressive Assemblymember Diana Richardson from the 43rd Assembly District.
What was unusual in that race was that Hamilton was allegedly getting behind-the-scenes support from Adams and the Brooklyn Democratic Party, according to Richardson — even though the party almost never endorses challengers over incumbents.
Hamilton’s appointment to DCAS comes amid a shortage of municipal workers and efforts by the administration to wrangle more attorneys by relying on outside firms to supply lawyers for free. The mayor has also called on city agencies to eliminate half of an estimated 21,000 vacant positions in a cost-cutting move.