Elliott Broidy, a California-based venture capitalist who, according to his website, has worked to “strengthen nations” including the US, which he considers the “beloved country of his birth”, and Israel, his “spiritual home”.
But leaked emails given to the New York Times reportedly show that Broidy, a Republican fundraiser, has also worked closely with George Nader, an adviser to the Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, to possibly further the UAE’s influence in the White House. Nader has testified to a grand jury in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of foreign countries attempting to influence the Trump administration.
While a successful and influential businessman, lawsuits and crime have dogged Broidy’s career.
Al Jazeera reviewed court documents, as well as lobbying disclosures, that shed light on his history of bribery and connections to pro-Israel advocates.
According to Broidy’s website he began his career at Arthur Andersen & Co, an accounting and business consulting firm that was effectively closed in the wake of the Enron scandal of the early 2000s.
Broidy was a cofounder and chairman of Markstone Capital Group, an Israeli private equity firm that raised more than $800m from US and Israeli investors that was meant for Israeli companies.
He also founded Markstone Capital Partners, the investment fund’s management company.
The firm has faced financial difficulties, especially after it was forced to pay $18m in restitution fees after Broidy pleaded guilty in 2009 to bribing New York officials with paid trips to Israel and other goods and favours that totalled roughly $1m.
These officials, who oversaw the state’s public pension fund, invested $250m with Markstone Capital Partners. The guilty plea reduced the charges to a single misdemeanour in exchange for Broidy’s cooperation with prosecutors in the case.
After the case ended, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), an independent body that protects investors and markets, investigated Broidy further for what it said was a “fraudulent scheme to extract kickbacks from investment advisers and/or their intermediaries” for supporting proposed California pension fund investments.
The SEC subpoenaed Broidy in May 2009 for testimony and documents related to the alleged scheme. Broidy declined to testify and repeatedly failed to comply with requests for documents, according to SEC lawyers.
On February 22, 2010, lawyers for the SEC asked the court to enforce their subpoena. An SEC lawyer called Broidy’s compliance with their request “woefully incomplete”, which his lawyers disputed.
The SEC did not file further requests for documents and the case was dismissed in April 2010.
The SEC lawyers on the case did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
A year after Broidy’s SEC case was dismissed, he was accused of fraud and corruption in a “pay-to-play” scheme involving the New Mexico State Investment Council (NMSIC), which manages the investments of the state’s current $23.5bn in public funds – the third-largest in the US, according to NMSIC’s website.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the NMSIC against the alleged corrupt individuals in 2011 by Gary King, New Mexico’s former attorney general. It alleged that from 2003 to 2009, members of the NMSIC invested public funds “based on their own selfish interests” and the interests of “politically connected individuals”.
Broidy was named as one of the “politically connected individuals” in the lawsuit. He “was paid a substantial fee in connection” with an investment made by NMSIC that was deemed “improper”, the suit alleged.
The NMSIC case began in a federal district court, but was dismissed in June 2011 after legal action was moved to a civil court, wherein monetary compensation would be sought for the alleged corruption.
Broidy paid a $1m settlement to the NMSIC in 2014 that released him and his company, Markstone, from “any and all claims” that might come from the lawsuit.
Former New Mexico governor Susana Martinez signed the agreement and a New Mexico state court of appeals validated the settlement in 2016 following two years of appeals from other defendants who wanted to block the deal.
Private security, UAE and a pro-Israel lobbyist
Broidy is a notable philanthropist who sits on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which embraces a “pro-Israel foreign policy”. He has been called “Israel’s myster benefactor” for his notable investements through Markstone “to boost private enterprise” in Israel, according to the Jewish Journal.
Broidy also has connections to both the UAE and pro-Israel lobbyists in the US through another of his companies, Circinus, a private security firm that has operated since 2005.
Circinus provides services to governments, including to law enforcement in the US and intelligence services, according to its website. The company has contracts worth about $200m in the UAE, according to the New York Times.
Circinus has employed Fidelis Government Relations as its “[g]overnment relations consulting firm” to lobby US politicians since at least July 2017, according to filings from the US Congress.
Particularly of note, the lobbyist on file for Circinus is Terry Allen, a former chief-of-staff for Oklahoma Republican Steve Largent, a four-term congressman who served from 1994 to 2002.
Allen is also listed as the president of Fidelis on his LinkedIn page and as the policy director for the Alliance for Israel Advocacy (AIA), a Messianic Jewish organisation that promotes a “one-state solution”, in which Israel assumes direct control of the occupied Palestinian territories, according to the AIA’s website.
However, the group is not comfortable with a sizable Arab Palestinian population in its vision of the one-state solution.
In an AIA policy paper, Paul Liberman, the group’s executive director, proposed that economic incentives be offered to Palestinians to emigrate from the occupied West Bank to other Arab nations.
“After a sufficient time, there might be only a million Arabs in residence,” Liberman wrote.
Allen has been lobbying for AIA since February 2016, according to filings. AIA’s purpose is supporting “the restoration of Israel”, the policy paper says. AIA has paid Fidelis at least $100,000 for its lobbying services.
AIA lists as supporters Senator James Lankford and Representative Lee Zeldin, both Republicans, on its website.
Zeldin is one of the US politicians pushing for Al Jazeera to be labelled a “foreign agent” for allegedly attempting to influence US policy in favour of the Qatari government. Al Jazeera has denied the allegations.
Other articles in this series
Mueller’s Web: The UAE-Trump Connection, an Al Jazeera interactive displaying connections between major players related to Trump and the UAE.