Ezra Friedlander, consultant working for Azerbaijan, didn’t officially disclose City Hall meeting

Friedlander, who has also worked with many Haredi organizations, said the meeting was irrelevant to questions about Adams’s ties with Turkey

Lobbyist Ezra Friedlander with Turkish ambassador Hasan Murat Mercan. Credit: Turkish Embassy/Facebook

Apr 5, 2024 1:55 PM


Ezra Friedlander, a longtime political consultant who has done public relations work for Haredi organizations, failed to disclose meeting last year with Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister and top officials in New York City Mayor Eric Adams’s administration, at a time when Adams’s ties with Turkey are facing scrutiny, the New York Daily News reported.

Friedlander, who has worked as an agent for both Azerbaijan and Turkey, posted about the meeting in May on X, formerly Twitter. He named Adams’s international affairs commissioner, Edward Mermelstein, Jewish community liaison Joel Eisdorfer, mayoral staffer Rana Abbasova, and the deputy foreign minister for Azerbaijan, Elnur Mammadov. 

A few months after Friedlander’s post, an FBI investigation into Adams’s 2021 mayoral campaign was made public. The FBI executed a raid at Abbasova’s New Jersey home in November as part of the investigation into whether the government of Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, conspired to funnel foreign donations to the the mayoral campaign. Adams has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Friedlander’s post said the meeting took place at City Hall, not the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, which Mermelstein leads. Adams’s schedule for that day lists an event at 4:30 p.m., but doesn’t offer more details about the event. Friedlander and a spokesperson for the mayor both told the Daily News that the mayor was not at the meeting. 

“Do you think if I wanted to hide this meeting, I would have tweeted about it?” Friedlander told Shtetl. He said that he didn’t report the meeting, as he was required to do under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, because he didn’t put the meeting in his calendar as he usually does, and it “fell between the cracks” when he later looked through the meetings for those he needed to disclose.

Among other organizations, Friedlander’s firm has consulted for the Haredi organizations Agudath Israel of America, the Boro Park Jewish Community Council, the village of Kiryas Joel, and the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, according to the firm’s website. Friedlander also consulted for the campaign to elect U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler, and has accompanied Senator Chuck Schumer to visit the Satmar rebbe of Kiryas Joel, Aaron Teitelbaum.