Prominent GOP fundraiser charged in covert lobbying effort

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WASHINGTON — Elliott Broidy, a prominent fundraiser for President Trump and the Republican Party, has been charged in an illicit lobbying campaign aimed at getting the Trump administration to drop an investigation into the multibillion-dollar looting of a Malaysian state investment fund.

Broidy is the latest person accused by the Justice Department of participating in the covert lobbying effort, which also sought to arrange for the return of a Chinese dissident living in the US. A consultant, Nickie Lum Davis, pleaded guilty in August in federal court in Hawaii for her role in the scheme.

The case was filed this week in federal court in Washington, DC, with Broidy facing a single conspiracy charge related to his failure to register his efforts under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires people lobbying in the US for a foreign entity to disclose that work to the Justice Department.

Prosecutors allege that Broidy worked with Davis and others to get the Justice Department to abandon its pursuit of billions of dollars that officials say were pilfered from 1MDB, a Malaysian wealth fund that was established more than a decade ago to accelerate the country’s economic development.

The effort was made on behalf of a fugitive Malaysian financier, Jho Low, who has been charged in the US with conspiring to launder billions of dollars from the fund.

The attempt to wipe away legal troubles was ultimately unsuccessful: The Justice Department in 2018 charged Low, who remains at large, in connection with the alleged money laundering and last year reached a civil settlement to recover more than $700 million in assets that officials say are traceable to the looted funds.

Low has denied wrongdoing and did not admit blame in that settlement.

Broidy has been a top fundraiser for Trump but resigned in 2018 from his role as deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee after it was revealed that he paid $1.6 million to a Playboy Playmate with whom he had an extramarital affair.

A lawyer for Broidy declined to comment Thursday. The allegations are contained in a charging document known as an information, which typically signals an intent to plead guilty.