By Julia Marsh and Nolan Hicks, NY Post
It pays to be married to the boss.
Eric Adams’ mayoral campaign overpaid a campaign consultant who did little work — because he is the powerful Brooklyn Democratic Party leader’s husband, multiple sources claimed to The Post.
Edu Hermelyn, husband of Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the Kings County Democratic Party chair, received a $10,000-a-month retainer from the Adams campaign for consulting services, public filings show.
But sources say it was an overly generous sum given his level of expertise. And critics worry the arrangement is a sign of the outsize influence the borough’s resurgent Democratic machine — which has seen three of its five bosses since the 1960s felled by scandal — will have at City Hall.
“Nobody I know knows him to be a consultant of any kind,” said one party insider who described Hermelyn as a “random hanger-on in the Brooklyn party” until he wed Bichotte in January — a month after he started working for Adams.
The $80,903.23 her husband’s Hermelyn Group LLC received this year was nearly identical to the $81,417 paid to Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Adams’ right-hand woman, according to Campaign Finance Board documents.
Several sources with knowledge of Adams’ campaign staff said Hermelyn did little more than hand out palm cards and ensure supporters showed up for events.
Yet, Hermelyn was paid nearly as much as strategic advisor Menashe Shapiro, who earned about $100,000 and handled rapid response and other key tasks for Adams.
“Anyone watching the mayoral race closely knows that Edu was not even one of the top 25 people that delivered for Eric,” said a source with knowledge of staffers’ responsibilities.
Another staffer, Hercules Reid, who assisted Adams at campaign events, was paid less than half of Hermelyn or about $4,000 a month.
“I think it raises eyebrows that the husband of the county leader would be getting paid a significant amount more than what another campaign worker doing the same job would receive,” a second source said.
“It is outrageous that politically-motivated individuals, who have failed to sway the public through any legitimate means, are now attempting to call into question my ethics, as the first woman to lead the Brooklyn Democratic Party, because of my husband’s work as an organizer,” Bichotte said in a statement to The Post.
“Our shared love of the community is what brought us together and what continues to make us a great team.”
Adams, however, is unlikely to gripe that the money was not well spent. He needed, and netted, a strong performance in Brooklyn to win the crowded Democratic primary in June, which made him the overwhelming favorite in the November general election.
Assemblywoman Bichotte — the Brooklyn Democrats’ first chairwoman — endorsed Adams early in the primary and campaigned heavily for him throughout the election season.
He received 48.9 percent of the first-choice selections on Brooklyn ballots cast during early voting and on Primary Day, according to tallies released by the Board of Elections. That far outpaced the 31.7 percent of the first-choice ballots he netted citywide.
The Brooklyn borough president would go on to win 71 percent of the borough’s vote in the general election against his Republican challenger, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.
Asked about the money paid to Bichotte’s husband, a spokesman for Adams said that Hermelyn is “an experienced organizer who was effective in mobilizing voters on behalf of the campaign.”
“In 2021, our party shouldn’t be operating like an old-fashioned patronage mill where you get political favors in exchange for consultant jobs,” warned Tony Melone, communications director for the reform group New Kings Democrats.
Noted a Brooklyn political insider: “If you’re the county leader and you’re trying to show transparency and cleaning up politics in your borough it’s probably not the smartest idea for your family to be eating off the plate of a mayoral campaign.”
Hermelyn previously only worked for two other campaigns as a consultant and made no more than $14,000 in either gig, city and state campaign finance records show.
Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens) paid him $11,000 in 2016. Hermelyn does not report working again until he was paid $14,000 as a consultant on Councilwoman Farah Louis’s general election campaign in 2019.
Louis — who was a close ally of Bichotte at the time — faced no serious competition in her heavily Democratic district, which covers Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood.
She netted 14,000 votes compared to just 700 for the second-place contender.
Hermelyn’s consulting firm has also netted contracts worth at least $250,000 from the Department of Education since 2017, records show.
It’s not the first time Bichotte has battled allegations she’s helped Hermelyn. She appointed him to an unpaid but influential district leader position last year.
Hermelyn, 49, also served as Assemblywoman Diana Richardson’s (D-Brooklyn) chief of staff and worked for former Brooklyn Democratic Party kingmaker Clarence Norman, who was sent to prison for selling judicial posts.
Norman’s conviction and ouster was the latest in a long string in corruption scandals involving the Brooklyn party.
Federal prosecutors finally nabbed longtime party boss Meade Esposito in the 1980s as part of a favor-trading scandal that also involved then-Congressman Mario Biaggi.
Norman’s successor, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, faced years of allegations over steering contracts to a non-profit he controlled but was only ousted after four women accused him of sexual harassment.
Lopez was replaced by an ally, Frank Seddio, who retired in 2020 and was succeeded by Bichotte.