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The former lobbyist and long-time family friend of Eric Adams was appointed to a position in City Hall that comes with a lot of power—and she’s not afraid to use it.
- Scheduler and staff assistant for then-freshman Representative Joe Crowley
- Policy analyst, New York City Council
- Chief of Staff, New York City Councilmember Domenic Recchia
- Vice President, WolfBlock Public Strategies
- Vice President and later Partner, the Parkside Group
- President, York Group Associates (now known as Tiffany Raspberry Consulting LLC)
- Eric Adams 2021 campaign consultant
- Senior Adviser to the Mayor and Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs
In an interview posted in August 2021, the lobbyist Tiffany Raspberry shared that “one of the things that I’ve found to be most difficult when I started my firm, that I still struggle with every day, is the back end of the business.” She added, “You can’t get paid and operate if you don’t manage the back end of your affairs well.”
Raspberry, now one of Mayor Eric Adams’s top aides, is well aware of the consequences of mismanagement. As the New York Daily News reported, her firm York Group Associates had so many lobbying disclosure violations from 2011 to 2020 that the firm was fined nearly $38,000 by the city clerk’s office. In 2018, the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE, also investigated and fined York Group Associates for failing to file timely reports. (Later that year, York Group Associates turned around and sued JCOPE over new rules requiring lobbyists to disclose more details about their work.)
When asked by the Daily News about these disclosure violations, Raspberry said they were “small mistakes,” explaining that much like Adams, she is “perfectly imperfect.”
Neither these “small mistakes,” nor her client list as a lobbyist, prevented Adams from bringing Raspberry on board as his senior adviser for external affairs as one of his first hires as mayor. That client list included the tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., whom she worked with to argue against a proposed ban on menthol cigarettes; Camber Property Group, the owner of the Bronx apartment building where 17 people died in a fire in 2022; the homeless services provider CORE Services Group, which was plagued by so much scandal and mismanagement over the years that the City ended its contract with them and then sued them at the end of 2021, and Walmart. (Raspberry, for her part, has defended lobbying as “necessary.” “Behind every major legislative issue there is a lobbying campaign,” Raspberry said in 2014, adding, “Lobbying is just a more organized level of advocacy.”)
Raspberry and Adams go back decades—according to Raspberry, they met when she was a student at Fordham University via her mother, who worked in the same police precinct as Adams. In her work at York Group Associates, she often lobbied Adams when he was Brooklyn borough president (and hosted at least one fundraiser for him), and she was a paid consultant for his mayoral campaign.
“Politicos do not often look at Black women and see what they believe is the face of someone who is capable of communicating with or accessing the seat of political power. Black women are often seen as good individuals to bring in to assist on larger teams or fill in gaps, but are not often given a chance to play a larger, more significant role,” Raspberry told City and State in 2020. “The bias I have faced can be likened to racial stereotyping that Black quarterbacks have faced historically in the NFL.”
Raspberry has since been promoted to Adams’s director of intergovernmental and external affairs, a powerful—and well-compensated—position, a sign of how deeply Adams values Raspberry, despite sources telling the New York Post last September that she “proved a dud in working with state lawmakers.” (She’s also one of his administration’s key liaisons to the Biden administration, and it’s safe to say she’s been a “dud” there, too.) Despite failing to successfully push many of Adams’s priorities through, earlier this year, Adams announced he had restructured her role in order to, in the words of City and State, “provide Raspberry with more authority and have her report directly” to the mayor himself. According to Politico, she’s one of several chaotic forces in City government, regularly “interven[ing] in political matters” outside of her ostensible mandate.
Maybe Adams appreciates that. According to a recently departed City Hall staffer who worked under both Bill de Blasio and Adams and spoke to Hell Gate, part of Raspberry’s job seems to be listening to the complaints of local officials about small infrastructure projects, and then intervening in those projects to make them more amenable to the officials, thereby swaying people to Adams’s side. (In October of last year, Streetsblog noted Raspberry’s primary role in delaying the completion of proposed bus lanes on Northern Boulevard in Queens, after complaints by Councilmember Francisco Moya, an Adams supporter.)
“Tiffany would call me or whoever at my office and say, ‘We have to redesign this project, it’s not acceptable for the community,’ even though she didn’t know anything about the project or ask us any questions,” the former City Hall staffer recalled. Her message was often “I’m hearing a lot of complaints, we need to change it. The mayor isn’t happy,” the staffer said, adding, “She would just kind of take any meeting of an elected official who was maybe a perceived ally or wanted to be an ally of Adams.”
This sort of cozying up to potential Adams allies, the staffer said, was in stark contrast to how the de Blasio administration operated. “All these elected officials…lobbyists, just didn’t get these meetings, or if they did, they never trickled down to us,” they said. De Blasio’s deputies, the staffer said, “would make a decision and say, ‘We’re continuing on with our policy, or project.’ It was very unusual to get calls from, like, a senior adviser of the mayor saying that you had to stop a project or redesign a project, regardless of the facts.”
“It felt like she didn’t really know much about anything, but she stuck her nose in everything, which was kind of frustrating for the average City Hall employee,” the staffer said of Raspberry. Despite her relative inexperience, they said, “she was making pretty big decisions, and the mayor had delegated to her an amazing amount of power.” City Hall did not comment on the questions we sent about Raspberry.
Ultimately, they said of the former lobbyist, “she seems really just to be a mouthpiece for special interests.”
- Contender for top NYC City Hall post left trail of penalties and debt as a lobbyist | The New York Daily News
- Tiffany Raspberry: Lobbyist advances the people’s agenda—and our democracy | Brooklyn Paper
- ‘A NIMBY City Hall’: Adams Appointees Thwart Key Bike and Bus Projects | Streetsblog
Last updated: 12/18/2023
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