This was not the first time that Mr. Adams or his campaign had provided a document to The Times that raised questions about its authenticity. During the height of the 2021 mayoral race, the campaign told The Times it would provide a contract showing that a property Mr. Adams co-owned in Brooklyn was transferred to its other owner, Sylvia Cowan, in 2007. A week later, the campaign. provided the “official document transferring ownership” – a letter to Ms Cowan, not notarized, signed by Mr Adams but not hers, dated February 9, 2007.
An email obtained by The Times, which Ms Cowan sent in May 2021 to the co-op board, said Mr Adams had agreed to transfer ownership to her – 14 years after the letter provided by the campaign. Mr Adams listed the flat on his financial disclosure forms released this year, and a spokesman for the mayor said the process of transferring it was still “under way”.
Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of Citizens Union, a good government group, said she has known the mayor for years. She said she didn’t know the photo’s provenance, but didn’t understand why he would risk embellishing the truth about it.
“Stretching the truth in this context does call into question the credibility of an elected official, and that could be a problem for voters,” she said. “I don’t see why he does it. He doesn’t need to do it, so why does he do it?”
Mr. Venable’s niece, Meredith Benson, when first contacted by The Times, said she would be disappointed if the mayor was not truthful about the photo. But in a recent phone call, she said she was more concerned about Mr. Adams’ management of the city and said, “I support him 100 percent.”
Ms. Benson, who was a teenager when her uncle died, recalled visits Mr. Adams made to the family after Officer Venable’s death, his kindness to her grandmother, and his driving the family to events. She said she had not seen Mr. Adams in about three decades until this year.