One of six vice-chairs of the “Trump Victory Leadership Team,” a joint fundraising effort announced Tuesday by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, pleaded guilty in 2009 to criminal charges involving bribes paid to top New York State officials.
Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles venture capitalist, was charged with showering nearly $1 million in gifts and favors on state officials as part of a scheme to win more than $250 million in state pension investments for the venture capital firm he then headed, Markstone Capital. Broidy pleaded guilty to a felony charge of rewarding state official misconduct and faced a four-year prison term. But the charge was downgraded to a misdemeanor, allowing him to escape jail time, after he cooperated in the state’s investigation, resulting in the 2010 conviction of then state Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi.
Sean Spicer, the RNC’s communications director, dismissed questions about Broidy’s background, comparing it to that of New York investment figure Steve Rattner, a top Democratic moneyman who held a recent fundraiser for Hillary Clinton and was caught up in the same “pay for play” scandal. (Rattner agreed to pay a $10 million fine in 2010 to settle civil charges in the same investigation without admitting or denying wrongdoing.) Spicer pointed out that while Broidy’s appointment was included in a press release, the Clinton campaign didn’t do anything to call attention to the $100,000-a-head fundraising party Rattner held at his Manhattan home. “We knew about this,” Spicer said about Broidy’s background. “We didn’t try to hide anything. … I think there’s a point at which somebody has paid their debt to society.”
The key figures in the fundraising group include some of the party’s most powerful moneymen, such as former RNC finance chair Lewis Eisenberg and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson.
“This is an impressive leadership team comprised of talented individuals working together to unite the party and win what will be the most important election of our lifetime,” Trump said.
The prosecution of Broidy was led by Andrew Cuomo, then New York state attorney general, now governor. “This is an old-fashioned payoff of state officials,” said Cuomo then, adding that Broidy “paid nearly a million dollars in bribes” — including first-class airfare and luxury hotel bills for trips in Israel and Italy, sham consulting fees and rent payments for one state official’s girlfriend — “to get a quarter-billion-dollar investment.”
Broidy’s guilty plea at the time stunned some in the financial world, and the Jewish community, because of his glittering résumé: He was active in Jewish and Israeli philanthropies, sat on the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Simon Wiesenthal Center and had been been appointed to the Homeland Security Advisory Council by then Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. The case also included some noteworthy “pay to play” elements: Among Broidy’s improper payments, according to Cuomo, was a $300,000 investment in “Chooch,” an obscure low-budget independent movie set in Mexico and Queens that was produced by the brother of Hevesi’s chief of staff.
Broidy and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Yahoo News.