Swipe to see connections
“Real estate is not to be toyed with here.”
- Navy veteran
- Director of Economic Development for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
- Head of 99 Solutions LLC lobbying firm
As Jacqui Williams tells it, when she first arrived in New York City in the early 1990s, she was a Navy veteran who struggled to find a job and slept on the street. Now, she is a sought-after real estate lobbyist who counts some of the biggest firms in the world as her clients, and has close ties with powerful New York political insiders like Eric Adams.
“It’s interesting because, to go from living on the street after serving my country, to representing the interests of some of the most powerful people in not only New York but in the world, I better than anybody else can advise them on their behavior in which to accomplish the things they want to get done and what they should not be doing, as a person that has been impacted by it,” Williams told the podcast HeyBK in 2018. “And they can either choose to take my advice or not. And I’m very candid, as you can see.”
“I’m a drug dealer and my drug of choice is information and power,” Williams said on the podcast, describing her work. “And that’s what I’m selling. And I give advice and I teach them how to use the drug and I stand on a corner in the lobby, in government. That’s what I do, and on the behalf of the people I represent.”
Williams and the mayor go way back. In 2009, when Adams was a state senator, he scolded the crowd at the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable luncheon for not making “investments” in Democrats. Crain’s reported on the outburst under the headline, “Pay-to-Play 101? Senator’s advice.”
“But in suggesting that industry people hire lobbyists to establish relationships with Senate Democrats, he went so far as to recommend one: Jacqui Williams, who was sitting at his table,” the Crain’s story noted.
More recently, Brooklyn real estate interests paid Williams $239,800 to lobby Adams directly in 2018 when he was borough president. And in 2022, Williams hired Adams’s top fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, to help her lobby the City on behalf of the owner of the East Broadway Mall, who was trying to renegotiate the lease. While there was nothing technically illegal about Suggs moonlighting as a lobbyist, it’s unusual when your job is to raise money for your boss while also getting paid to influence that same boss. Williams and Suggs’s efforts apparently weren’t successful—the City sided with a different developer who also had deep connections to Adams (including to his son, Jordan Coleman). In early November, FBI agents raided Suggs’s home as part of their investigation into the mayor’s campaign finances.
Williams is also part of the Olori Sisterhood, a group of Black women power brokers, along with Adams’s senior advisor, Tiffany Raspberry. When the Times profiled the women in 2020, the paper referred to Williams as “a rainmaker.”
“I’m pretty bright. I can look around the city, and see where my advice and counsel has created a lot of opportunity and made a lot of people a lot of money.”
Williams stated in the interview that “I don’t represent anything that I don’t believe in,” and since becoming a lobbyist in 2003, according to public records, she has lobbied on behalf of Tishman Speyer, REBNY, IKEA, MSG Entertainment, Wegmans, Walmart, Cablevision, Coca-Cola, the Legal Aid Society, and Steve Wynn. Williams has said helping to bring Wegmans to New York City “is one of my firm’s greatest accomplishments.”
In 2022 and 2023, 99 Solutions has been paid more than $1 million to lobby City and state officials, including $230,000 from REBNY, $130,000 from the gambling company American Racing and Entertainment, and $165,000 from commercial real estate titan SL Green. By comparison, the $18,000 paid to 99 Solutions by the Chinatown mall owner ($3,000 of which made its way to Suggs) is chump change.
In 2022, Williams’s firm was also paid $90,000 by Greenidge Generation, the company that uses a Finger Lakes power plant to mine Bitcoin in an apparent violation of New York’s climate laws.
Messages sent to 99 Solutions have not been returned.
“New York City is about real estate. To me, this is the baseball game here, and without real estate working the way it needs to work and wants to work, nobody else will work,” Williams told HeyBK. “A lot of these real estate organizations been around since the 1800s. My people were slaves when they started organizations about real estate. Real estate is not to be toyed with here. It needs to be lobbied. It has to.”
- 99 Solutions, LLC
- Jackie Williams, 99 Solutions, (S1 E6) | HeyBK
- How a Brooklyn Sisterhood of Black Women Became National Power Brokers | The New York Times
Last updated: 12/18/2023
If you like what you're reading, become a subscriber.
Sign up for Inbox Hell, our biweekly free newsletter:
Sisters in the Olori Sisterhood with
Needed help lobbying the Adams administration, hired