Grand jury probes whether top GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy offered improper access to Trump: report

Investigators are probing whether Broidy exploited access to Trump to land business deals with foreign officials

Published July 8, 2019 10:48AM (EDT)

Elliott Broidy (YouTube)
Elliott Broidy (YouTube)

A federal grand jury is probing whether Elliott Broidy, a top GOP fundraiser and the former vice chair of President Donald Trump's inaugural committee, abused his position by offering improper access to the president's inaugural team, the Associated Press reported Monday, citing documents and sources familiar with the matter.

Investigators are examining whether Broidy exploited his access to Trump in pursuit of business deals with foreign officials. They are also probing whether he violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it “unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business,” according to Justice Department guidelines. In this case, things of value could have been "an invitation to the January 2017 inaugural events or access to Trump," the AP reported.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn recently issued a sweeping subpoena to Trump's inaugural committee, seeking records related to 20 individuals and businesses, according to the news outlet. The entities reportedly "have connections to Broidy, his investment and defense contracting firms, and foreign officials he pursued deals with — including the current president of Angola and two politicians in Romania."

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that investigators are examining whether Broidy was paid by his clients, including an intelligence firm, for "special access" to the 2017 inauguration. Such transactions would violate campaign-finance, lobbying or money-laundering laws, the newspaper noted.

Broidy reportedly invited several officials from Angola and Romania to inaugural events in 2017, introducing some of them to members of Congress even though he was not registered as a foreign lobbyist; his company was paid $6 million by Angolan officials for its services.

A spokesman for Broidy's company, Cirinicus LLC, told the Journal the companys who attended inaugural events were approved by the Trump inaugural committee and the State Department. Trump's inaugural committee reportedly told the newspaper it had responded to a request for information on the case from prosecutors in April.

Broidy's attorneys told the AP that neither their client or Circinus had a contract or exchanged money with "any Romanian government agency, proxy or agency." The statement also said that while Circinus reached an agreement with Angola in 2016, it was not connected to the inauguration or to Broidy's role on the inaugural committee.

"Any implication to the contrary is false," the lawyers told the news outlet.

Broidy, a 61-year-old Los Angeles-based venture capitalist, has played major roles in GOP fundraising, including finance chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) from 2006 to 2008 and vice chairman of the Trump Victory Committee in 2016. He helped the Republican Party and Trump's campaign bring in more than $108 million during the 2016 election.

He also served as a fundraiser for former President George W. Bush and later as deputy finance chairman of the RNC from 2017 to 2018. Broidy stepped down from the post last year in the wake of reports that he allegedly paid $1.6 million as part of a confidentiality agreement to a former Playboy model with whom he had an affair and a child. The payment was arranged in 2017 by Trump's former longtime lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen, who is currently serving a three year prison sentence for tax fraud, lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws.

The former Playboy model, Shera Bechard, also accused Broidy of physical and sexual abuse and claimed he exposed her to herpes. The allegations were made in a lawsuit filed by Bechard contending that Broidy stopped making payments on the $1.6 million hush money agreement. Broidy has denied the allegations.

"This person tried to extract money from me by making up false, malicious and disgusting allegations," Broidy said in a statement last year. "I have acknowledged making the mistake of having an affair, and I entered a confidential agreement to protect my family's privacy."

"I honored my agreement until her lawyer breached it — and then, when I failed to pay her demands, she did what blackmailers do and went public with her lies," he added. "I will vigorously defend myself against these false and defamatory allegations, and I will seek all relief available to me under the settlement agreement against her and her attorneys."

By Shira Tarlo

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