A former Playboy Playmate’s lawsuit against prominent Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy over a $1.6 million non-disclosure agreement stemming from an affair in which she became pregnant will remain under seal, at least for now, a Los Angeles judge said Tuesday.
But attorneys for model Shera Bechard were ordered by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige to provide a copy of the suit to another defendant in the case — attorney Michael Avenatti, best known for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with now-President Donald Trump more than a decade ago.
Hiroshige asked the attorneys — including lawyer Kelli Sager, representing multiple media outlets — to brief him on whether a hearing should be held within 10 days on a possible unsealing of the suit, or if the motion can be heard beyond that time. Sager’s clients include ABC, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Beast, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, CNN and the New York Post.
“The exigency is a small document called the Constitution and the First Amendment,” said Avenatti, who backed the media motion to make the case public immediately.
Bechard filed the lawsuit Friday against Broidy, Avenatti and her former attorney, Keith Davidson. Although the case was approved for filing under seal by Judge Ruth Kwan, the Wall Street Journal reported that the case stems from the apparent breakdown of the $1.6 million hush agreement. Hiroshige said he is going to leave Kwan’s ruling intact in full for now.
Sager said Kwan only heard one side of the issues when she made her ruling.
The WSJ reported that Broidy — a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist for former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee — planned to stop making payments to Bechard, claiming Davidson breached the agreement by leaking details of it to Avenatti.
Avenatti said after the hearing that he believes Bechard’s attorney, Peter Stris, leaked the contents of the suit to the WSJ. He decried what he said was a “cesspool” of falsehoods that are being directed at him.
According to the Journal, Avenatti wrote a Twitter post in April referencing a non-disclosure agreement between a GOP donor and a Los Angeles woman — one day before the Wall Street Journal broke the story about the deal involving Broidy.
Broidy, who is married with three children, resigned in April as the RNC’s deputy finance chairman and issued a statement admitting the affair and apologizing to his family.
Avenatti issued a statement last week saying he had no idea why he was named as a defendant in Bechard’s suit, “unless it is a ploy by Ms. Bechard to get publicity.”
“I was never a party to any agreement with her and I never had any obligation to her,” Avenatti said. “Her beef, if any, lies with her own attorney Keith Davidson and Mr. Broidy, or whomever impregnated her.”
Stris responded with a Twitter post of his own directed at Avenatti.
“You know why you are included in this complaint,” Stris wrote. “You understood that your previous actions might well lead to this when you called our firm and begged us not to sue you several days ago.”
Stris said the lawsuit was “provisionally sealed” for 20 days.
Broidy, a former member of the commission that oversees the Los Angeles city Fire and Police Pension Fund, said in April it was “unfortunate” that his affair — which occurred “between two consenting adults” — has become the “subject of a national discussion just because of Michael Cohen’s involvement.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Cohen — Trump’s personal attorney — brokered the $1.6 million deal between Broidy and Bechard.
“Mr. Cohen reached out to me after being contacted by this woman’s attorney, Keith Davidson,” Broidy said. “Although I had not previously hired Mr. Cohen, I retained Mr. Cohen after he informed me about his prior relationship with Mr. Davidson.”
Cohen is a defendant, along with Trump, in Daniels’ Los Angeles federal lawsuit trying to invalidate a non-disclosure agreement she signed over her alleged 2006-07 affair with Trump. The White House has denied the allegation.
Cohen is under criminal investigation by the FBI in New York.
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