In the six months since being named the mayor’s chief of staff — a gatekeeper to the most powerful politician in New York City — Frank Carone regularly met with a parade of lobbyists and politicos, and conducted city business at an exclusive Manhattan club, according to schedules reviewed by Gothamist.
Meeting records obtained through a freedom of information request offer a glimpse into just who has the ear of Frank Carone, Mayor Eric Adams’ chief of staff and longtime adviser, who previously served as the lawyer to the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
Carone, a self-made millionaire, once served as a partner to the Abrams Fensterman law firm — which often has business before the city — until he was appointed to the leadership post in city government, playing a central role in policymaking. According to the city’s official organizational chart, Carone is part of the mayor’s leadership team and oversees 13 divisions within city government, including the intergovernmental affairs, international affairs, and appointments divisions.
His appointments detail a day-by-day listing of meetings beginning on January 1st through June 30th. His days would often extend into the evening and include meals at Casa Cipriani, an exclusive lower Manhattan restaurant that charges a yearly membership fee of $3,600, according to reports. Carone — who earns a yearly salary of $251,982 — said he paid for the membership and did not ask the city to reimburse him. Carone also frequents the Odeon, a bistro located in Tribeca, to conduct meetings.
The substance of those appointments varied month by month and followed the ebbs and flows that come with the work of a chief of staff, though a daily staple was his 8:30 a.m. COVID-19 briefing. While some meetings focused on specifics, the subjects of other meetings were vague and often characterized as simply “meeting with Frank.”
Other appointments included meetings with the casino industry, going back to January when Carone met with Rob Goldstein, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands. He also met to speak on subjects regarding Willets Point, a section of Queens that was being eyed for a fully licensed casino. New York state is currently charged with deciding who would receive three full-fledged gaming licenses in the state, though Carone, like Adams, said he would like two of those licenses to be issued to city-based casinos. In his meetings with casino interests, Carone said the subject of those talks centered on the city being made aware that a potential site for a casino is being scouted.
“I have not given any indication one way or another that we’re against any of those locations nor that we are for any of those locations,” Carone said in a telephone interview on Friday.
There were also meetings with figures involved with cryptocurrency, another state-regulated sector in which Adams has taken a personal interest (his first three checks were converted into Bitcoin). Carone said those meetings explored the possibility of hearing out cryptocurrency firms’ interest in setting up shop in New York City. Those efforts might be quashed if Gov. Kathy Hochul signs a bill issuing a moratorium on cryptocurrency.
“Yes, we want to have innovation. We want these new industries here. We don't want them in LA. We don't want them in Dallas. We don't want them in San Francisco. We don't want them in Miami,” Carone said. “So, we learn a lot. We take notes, we let them know that we're open to ideas, but the end product and the end goal of these meetings were like always, ‘bring your business here, open here.’”
Carone said the meetings did not involve investing taxpayer money into cryptocurrency.
Carone took his business-friendly theme abroad, visiting Israel and Seoul, South Korea to attract businesses to the city. He described his trip to Seoul (which he said was paid for by the South Korean government) as “fruitful,” and spoke with the heads of Samsung in hopes of drawing the electronics giant to New York City.
There were also visits with members of the New York City Council ahead of the city budget. A review of meeting records showed he met with at least a dozen members, with Staten Island Councilmember Kamillah Hanks being his most frequent visitor. Hanks currently serves as chair of the Council’s public safety committee, and Carone described the meetings as ensuring that “her committee is utilized to its full potential.” Hanks did not return a phone call seeking comment.