Editor’s Note, 5/24/18: This article has been updated throughout to clarify Circinus secured jobs from the Defense Department in 2017 on a contract that was signed in 2014. The article previously stated a lawyer for Broidy was contacted but did not respond. We regret the error.
At the same time Elliott Broidy was cashing in on his access to President Trump by pitching him on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he was also receiving the biggest payouts in the history of his company from the U.S. government.
Monday, the Associated Press reported on the months-long 2017 lobbying effort carried out by Broidy and George Nader that brought the pair close to securing nearly $1 billion in contracts with the Saudis and the Emiratis in exchange for lobbying against their enemy, Qatar. Also during the pair’s lobbying blitz in the fall of 2017, Broidy’s company received its largest jobs to date from the federal government on a previously signed contract, The Daily Beast has learned.
The company, a Virginia-based security firm called Circinus LLC, is owned by Broidy and has secured at least $800 million in foreign defense contracts since Trump took office. All of those payouts came after Broidy reportedly worked his contacts in D.C.—including Trump—to advocate for positions favorable to the countries that Circinus now lists as clients. Broidy has denied any wrongdoing.
In addition to its newfound international fortune, Circinus received Defense Department payments totalling more than $4 million in August and September 2017, the largest in the company’s history, a review of available contracts found.
(Two months later, Broidy funneled almost $200,000 into Michael Cohen’s bank accounts to pay off a Playboy model Broidy had impregnated, according to financial documents leaked to The New Yorker last week. The model received $1.6 million for her silence and Broidy resigned from his position with the RNC in the ensuing public relations fallout.)
Circinus, formed in 2001, has been bidding on jobs, known as “task orders,” with the Pentagon since 2011, but has had limited success. In 2014, the company signed a contract with the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) for unidentified intelligence services. It won a task order for $5,000 that year, according to public records. Broidy purchased Circinus in 2015.
Prior to 2017, Circinus had been paid a total of just $7,501 for its work on various defense jobs, according to the government’s contract database.
“The government site only tracks prime contract holders revenue and not sub-contracted work,” a lawyer for Broidy told The Daily Beast. “The majority of Circinus’s revenue was through subcontracts, which are simply not reported on the government database.”
Then, in August 2017 it finally received $3.9 million for a task order, nearly doubling the company’s income for the year. The following month, Circinus received $242,011 from the Defense Security Service for a separate task order.
The INSCOM task orders were made possible thanks to a 2015 Government Accountability Office decision to quash a protest over the bidding process brought by one of Circinus’ competitors. Other administrative changes to the contract pushed back the payment date to Aug. 18, 2017.
INSCOM did not respond to a request for comment regarding the payment or details of the contract. Representatives of Circinus could not be reached for comment and the company’s website was taken down some time after Feb. 8, according to the Internet Archive.
Circinus has seen a boon in business since Trump took office. In addition to the more than $4 million in U.S. defense task orders it inked in late 2017, Broidy’s company has secured a reported $200 million in deals with the state-owned Romanian defense company Romarm. That’s in addition to the $600 million contract Broidy secured with the UAE, which came after two Oval Office meetings with Trump in late 2017 where Broidy lobbied the president on several fronts favorable to the Emiratis.
The Romanian contracts came after Broidy gave “unsolicited input” to Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican who serves as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, just before Royce visited Romania in August 2017. Documents obtained by McClatchy appear to show that Broidy was in Romania at the same time. Broidy also worked Royce on behalf of the Saudis and Emiratis, claiming he had “shifted” the lawmaker into “being critical of Qatar,” the AP reported on Monday.
Royce—who received the maximum legal campaign contribution from Broidy—eventually backed legislation critical of Qatar.
Broidy’s personal emails, hacked and shared with several media outlets in February, show that the fall of 2017 was a particularly busy time for him—and not just because Circinus had received the biggest government payouts in its history.
In August, Broidy tried to influence a Justice Department investigation into the Malaysian state-run company 1MBD, according to the emails. Included in the hacked correspondences was a draft of a contract that would have netted Broidy $75 million if the Justice Department investigation came to an end, according to emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal. Broidy’s attorney denied his client tried to insert himself into the investigation.
But in addition to his direct access to Trump, Broidy also has a relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who sought Broidy’s recommendations for U.S. attorney nominees shortly after Trump was elected, ProPublica reported. Broidy, a lifelong venture capitalist with interest in developing movies, has no background in legal work.
Broidy’s emails also reportedly show how he used his access to Trump to work on behalf of the UAE, with whom Circinus first went into business when it signed hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts shortly after the election. More would follow, thanks to Broidy’s access to Trump and Nader working his benefactors among Saudi and Emirati royalty.
In October 2017, Broidy provided a dispatch of an Oval Office meeting between himself and Trump to Nader, who had cultivated Broidy as a partner in working within the White House to advocate for the positions of the Saudis and Emiratis. During one of two Oval Office visits, Broidy advocated for getting rid of then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was seen as insufficiently hostile to Qatar.
In the same Oval Office meeting, Broidy made clear that Tillerson had to go.
“President Trump asked me about the job Rex was doing,” Broidy reported to Nader following the meeting. “I responded that he was performing poorly and should be relieved but only at a good time, politically.”
It now appears that Nader’s cultivation of Broidy as a White House contact—and the pair’s success in achieving some of the goals of the Saudis and Emiratis—was the culmination of a lobbying long game that began before Americans even went to the polls in November 2016.
On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Nader attended a meeting just before the 2016 election that included Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign senior adviser Stephen Miller, Blackwater co-founder Erik Prince, and others. At the meeting, Nader spoke on behalf of the Emiratis and Saudis who offered support for Trump in his quest for the presidency.