EXCLUSIVE: Elliott Broidy, Scandal-Tarred GOP Donor, Inflated Role In Jewish Groups
When news broke Friday that the president’s personal lawyer had paid a Playboy model $1.6 million to keep quiet about her claim that she had been impregnated by Trump supporter Elliott Broidy, it was the most recent headline about the Jewish philanthropist and the most colorful — but not by much.
The world already knew how much Broidy had talked up his access to President Trump in order to gin up business for his defense contracting firm from the Saudis and the Emiratis. That’s because an anonymous group had leaked information about him to the press.
Broidy sued Qatar for allegedly hacking his e-mail. Qatar says Broidy is trying to create a distraction from the flurry of damaging news stories.
Before this notoriety descended, Broidy was known mainly for being a top-shelf campaign donor to Donald Trump, and a Jewish leader who gave generously to causes like Hillel — despite his past role in a major New York pension scandal. At least, that’s what his personal website said. Soon after the news of the alleged hush money hit, Broidy had started to resign some his glitzy titles: plum posts with the Republican National Committee and with the Republican Jewish Coalition.
But for years, his resume hadn’t been as impressive as he wanted it to look, a Forward investigation revealed.
Broidy, 60, describes himself very differently. He says he’s the head of a self-named financial firm and a trustee of a range of humanitarian, educational and business groups. He’s an award winner and a CPA who “has strived to help strengthen nations: the beloved country of his birth, the United States of America; and his spiritual home, the State of Israel.”
In fact, a Forward fact check of Broidy’s online biography found it full of outdated information, holes and inaccuracies that left unchecked paint a very rosy picture of him.
While Broidy claims to be an officer of the Hillel organization at his alma mater of the University of Southern California, for example, a representative said he has not been affiliated with that group — nor made a gift — in five or more years.
Similarly, Broidy describes himself as an officer of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple. According to a representative of the Los Angeles synagogue, that has not been the case since at least 2004. Both page source metadata and a copyright tag date the Broidy Capital website to 2014 — or about a decade after his temple board service would have concluded.
A spokeswoman for Hebrew Union College, where Broidy’s bio also claims he’s a board member, said he is not now an officer, although he has been acknowledged as a supporter of the school in the past.
High up in his bio, Broidy identifies himself as a member of the board of Vantis Capital Management, LLC. According to a Bloomberg database entry, however, Vantis, “a privately owned hedge fund sponsor,” had gone out of business as of January 24, 2006.
An error regarding the Simon Wiesenthal Center was of more recent vintage. Brody says he’s a trustee of the center, which promotes tolerance and fights anti-Semitism in the name of the renowned Nazi hunter. According to a spokeswoman, however, he’s not a current officer: “Elliott Broidy has been a longtime major donor of the Simon Wiesenthal Center,” she told The Forward via email. “He was a member of our Board of Trustees for six years [and] resigned on July 30, 2015.”
Asked about the discrepancies in his bio earlier this week, a Broidy spokesman responded via email: “We appreciate The Forward’s interest in Broidy Capital’s website and bringing it to our attention that it hasn’t been updated recently. We’ll be making those changes in short order including updating Elliott’s bio to reflect new roles such as his appointment as Deputy National Finance Chair of the Republican National Committee.”
That was the post Broidy resigned on Friday. He also resigned from the Republican Jewish Coalition, where he had been a member of the national board of directors.
To be sure, this is not the first time Broidy has grappled with a scandal. It was big news when he pleaded guilty in 2009 in a stunning pay-to-play case, admitting to giving nearly a million dollars in gifts to people in charge of New York’s pension funds, who in turn directed millions to Broidy’s Israel-focused investment firm, Markstone.
Ultimately, Broidy forfeited $18 million to New York State in that case. Thanks to his cooperation with the probe, he went on to get a felony dropped to a misdemeanor. On the other hand, then-New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, at the time one of the country’s most powerful Jewish elected officials, went on to become Inmate 11-R-1334 at an upstate prison.
Some of the information on his website is accurate. Broidy is currently a member of the board of leaders of the USC Marshall School of Business, the school confirms. His bio accurately reports he served on the board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts by appointment of then-President George W. Bush, and on the United States Homeland Security Advisory Council by then-DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff — plums that point to the strength of his relationship with that administration.
The new bio of Broidy provided by his spokesman mentions his RNC title and roles as vice chairman of the Trump Victory Campaign and inaugural committee, along with his past service on the boards of groups including the Los Angeles Police Foundation.
It also says he’s the “the Executive Producer of a film called Sugar about the growing homelessness crisis in Los Angeles,” and says he’s served “for the past 16 years on the Council of Guardians for Aviva Family and Children’s Services,” a non-profit that helps at-risk youth.
Broidy is not currently listed on the guardians roster at Aviva. Asked for clarification, the Broidy spokesman subsequently acknowledged he actually left the board of Aviva late last year and said that fact would be updated with the rest. Aviva did not return a request for comment.
The Forward’s fact check of Broidy’s credentials yielded a separate response from a consultant who said he was hired to manage Broidy’s “online presence” in July of 2014. The contractor, who asked not to be identified because he feared drawing negative attention from Broidy’s adversaries, said he has not been able to access the back end of sites such as BroidyCapital.com and ElliottBroidy.com because they are still registered under the credentials of a former Broidy aide.
However, he insisted, “I am certain Mr. Broidy has not looked at the content on the site for many years, and certainly not since my company became involved. I am also certain there is no willful intent of Mr. Broidy to misstate his credentials.” He volunteered a warm personal testimonial as to Broidy’s good character, saying the tycoon had supported him during his child’s health crisis.
Broidy’s spokesman provided a glowing endorsement attributed to Wilshire Boulevard Temple Senior Rabbi Steven Leder: “I have known Elliott Broidy for decades, and deeply respect his big heart, generous spirit, and longstanding commitment to philanthropy. His support of many causes both inside and outside of the Jewish community has changed lives in Los Angeles and across the country.”
Contacted separately by the Forward, a spokeswoman for the Florida-based non-profit group Lauren’s Kids said Broidy “has always been supportive of our work and our mission, and certainly still continues to be supportive as we work to prevent child sexual abuse and help survivors heal.”
Some of the same outdated biographical information on the Broidy Capital site also appears on the website of the Republican Jewish Coalition, where Broidy is identified as a member of the board. The RJC did not respond to Forward requests to discuss his role.
A friend of Broidy’s, who asked that his name be withheld for fear he would be targeted by the Qataris as Broidy says he has, told The Forward that if the financier actually cared about his web page, he’d presumably have updated it with recent “major political achievements” and a current photo.
“If has spent 60 seconds total in any given year looking at his own website, I’d be surprised,” the friend said. “It’s that unimportant to him.”
On the other hand, Broidy does link to this website on Twitter, which he has used recently to promote his claim that the Qataris are trying to ruin his reputation.