Congressman George Santos has gotten all the attention for being the liar extraordinaire of New York’s political scene, but Mayor Eric Adams is giving him a run for his money.
The New York Times reports that Adams has misled the media about a photo of a fallen police officer that the mayor suggested he’s been carrying in his wallet for decades. In fact, Adams allegedly instructed his staff to print the image after he first alluded to it last year, as a way of covering his tracks.
The deception began in January 2022, after two NYC cops were killed in action. Adams told reporters of another officer who had faced a similar fate in 1987: his friend Robert Venable. “I still think about Robert,” Adams said at a City Hall press conference. “I keep a picture of Robert in my wallet.”
A week later, Adams posed for a photograph for the Times, holding said photo. And he has repeated the story over and over since, even showing his apparently long-held photo of Venable at a Police Academy ceremony last year.
“I carry around a picture of Robert Venable, my close friend, that was shot several years ago during my early days of police, and I always have Robert’s picture,” Adams said on News 12 last April. “The pain never dissipates.”
And apparently it’s all just a sham, the Times reports. According to close sources, Adams’s staffers were directed to produce the photo after the mayor’s news conference. They printed a black-and-white photo of Venable off of Google, and then made it look worn—even apparently splashing some coffee on it, to get that nice aged look.
“The Times’ efforts to attack the mayor here would be laughable if it were not so utterly offensive,” Adams spokesman Fabien Levy said in a statement on Wednesday, criticizing the newspaper’s reporting as part of a “campaign to paint the mayor as a liar.”
Levy did not, however, respond to any questions from the Times regarding the authenticity of the photo, or about whether it was manipulated to look older.
The tale adds to the long list of “contradictions,” as Politico calls them, or downright lies from Mayor Adams. He’s a self-proclaimed strict vegan who apparently also eats fish at high-end New York City restaurants. It wasn’t clear he actually lived in New York City when he running for mayor. He has said New York City schoolchildren “start their day going to the corner bodega buying cannabis and fentanyl,” and recently said that nearly half of the city’s hotel rooms were occupied by migrants, implying that asylum-seekers were hurting tourism.
And that’s just a taste of all the hyperbole or downright lies Adams has peddled—often for no apparent reason. “Stretching the truth in this context does question an elected official’s credibility, and that might be a problem for voters,” Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of Citizen Union, told the Times. “I don’t see why he does it. He doesn’t need to do it, so why does he do it?”