BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) — Elliott Broidy, a prominent GOP fundraiser and the former deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee, has pleaded guilty in a back-channel lobbying campaign on behalf of a foreign government.
Broidy, 63, of Beverly Hills, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act. In his plea deal, he admitted he agreed to lobby on behalf of the alleged architects of the 1MDB scheme, a Malaysian government fund created to promote economic development that was instead laundered to purchase properties like the Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills and produce the Hollywood film, “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
“Broidy worked on behalf of foreign officials to influence the Department of Justice, and in doing so, failed to disclose his lucrative relationship with the foreign officials,” Keith A. Bonanno, special agent in charge at the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Cyber Investigations Office, said in a statement.
According to admissions he made in the plea deal, Broidy agreed to lobby the president, the attorney general and other high-level government officials between March 2017 and January 2018 to drop civil forfeiture proceedings concerning the 1MDB fund. He was paid $9 million by one of the alleged architects of the 1MDB scheme, according to the Department of Justice.
Broidy also agreed to lobby the administration and Department of Justice for the removal and return of a Chinese national and dissident of the People’s Republic of China. Federal officials say Broidy hid the fact that he was being paid millions, with the expectation of tens of millions more in success fees, for his lobbying efforts, which were ultimately unsuccessful.
Some of Broidy’s lobbying efforts included trying to arrange a meeting for a Chinese government official with the attorney general, the head of Homeland Security and other high-level officials during a visit in May 2017; providing talking points to the secretary of state about the 1MDB investigation before a meeting with the Malaysian Prime Minister in August 2017; and pushing the White House chief of staff for a golf game between the president and the Malaysian prime minister so they could discuss the resolution of the 1MDB investigation.
“This case demonstrates how foreign governments and principals seek to advance their agendas in the United States by hiding behind politically influential proxies. Such conduct poses a serious threat to our national security and undermines the integrity of our democracy,” Brian C. Rabbitt, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in a statement.
Broidy resigned his position with the Republican National Committee in 2018 following reports Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of President Donald Trump, represented him in negotiating payments to a former Playboy model who said Broidy had impregnated her.
Justice officials say Broidy paid roughly $2.4 million to his co-conspirator, Nickie Lum Davis, who pleaded guilty for her role in the scheme on Aug. 31. Broidy has agreed to forfeit the balance of $6.6 million as part of his plea deal.
Sentencing for Broidy has not yet been scheduled.