RNC official resigns amid $1.6 million hush payment to ex-Playboy model

The payment was arranged by President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who personally made $250,000

Published April 14, 2018 2:41PM (EDT)

Michael Cohen (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Michael Cohen (AP/Andrew Harnik)

Elliott Broidy, a key GOP donor with strong ties to the Trump White House, resigned as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee on Friday amid revelations he paid a former Playboy model $1.6 million after she became pregnant during an affair.

The payment was negotiated in late 2017 by President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who also serves on the RNC finance committee, according to The New York Times. Sources told CNBC that Cohen made $250,000 for brokering the deal.

Broidy, 62, paid the former Playboy model $1.6 million in installments over a two-year period, and has become the second member of the committee to resign in recent months. This past January, finance chairman, Steve Wynn, resigned following widespread accusations of sexual harassment, as Salon has previously reported.

"I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate," Broidy said in a statement, according to the Wall Street Journal. "At the end of our relationship, this woman shared with me that she was pregnant. She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period."

Broidy, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist was a major donor for the Republican Party and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. He helped raise more than $108 million, the WSJ noted. He also served as a fundraiser for former President George W. Bush.

Knowledge of the agreement between Broidy and the former Playboy model, which was put together by Cohen, comes on the heels of an FBI raid on Monday of Cohen's hotel room and his office. The purpose of the raid was that the FBI sought "among other things, business records, emails and documents relating to Mr. Cohen’s role in paid confidentiality agreements during the presidential campaign with two other women, who said they had had sexual relationships with Mr. Trump," the Times noted.

The two women who have alleged sexual relationships with Trump are Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, and porn actress, Stormy Daniels. Trump is currently entangled in a complex legal battle with both women.

McDougle "sold the rights to her story for $150,000 to American Media Inc., the publisher of The National Enquirer," and the story was never made public. While Daniels, was paid $130,000 through a limited liability company established by Cohen, who has claimed to have used his personal funds to make the payment.

Keith Davidson, who represented both McDougle and Daniels, also represented the unnamed former Playboy model who became pregnant during an extramarital affair with Broidy. The revelations highlight "a pattern of collaboration between the lawyers in striking for-pay accommodations to silence women’s allegations about powerful men," the Times noted.

Broidy is not a known subject of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia, however, he holds strong ties to the White House. During an Oval Office meeting in October, he "raised numerous topics high on the agenda of the United Arab Emirates, a country that has given his security company a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars, " the Times reported.

But Broidy also has a strong relationship with George Nader, who is a working witness in the Mueller investigation. After Broidy received a $2.5 million wire payment from Nader, he pushed an anti-Qatar agenda and donated funds to lawmakers considering legislation that targeted Qatar. At the time of Broidy's actions, there was a major shift in the Gulf as Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates led a movement to isolate Qatar.

By Charlie May

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