A scandal surrounding Atlantic Bridge, a conservative “think tank” exposed earlier this month by U.K. regulators as a front group for Tory party interests and corporate lobbyists, has jolted Prime Minister David Cameron’s government. Over the weekend, allegations stemming from the Atlantic Bridge pay-to-play scheme resulted in the resignation of Liam Fox, Cameron’s Defense secretary. But the controversy may also hit a high profile American politician: GOP presidential contender Herman Cain.
Atlantic Bridge is a right-wing nonprofit that is officially partnered with the Washington, DC-based American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate lobbying front that funnels business lobbyist tailored legislation to state representatives and state senators across is the country. Earlier this month, the U.K. Charity Commission axed the Atlantic Bridge after an investigation found the group to have violated charity laws by acting primarily as a tax exempt front for business lobbyists. In particular, a number of defense industry hedge fund managers and weapons makers financed both Atlantic Bridge and its director, Adam Werritty, a British lobbyist. Werritty, the press learned, improperly acted as a high level adviser to Fox; at times using the Atlantic Bridge nonprofit as a cover for his allegedly illicit influence peddling.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Werritty and Fox attended Atlantic Bridge-organized defense contractor parties in the United States as well, including one at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington, DC. The fundraising party, held in September last year, featured John Falk, a representative for a private security firm with work for the government in Pakistan, a lobbyist named Clark Judge, as well as a defense industry lobbyists like Powell Moore and Jeffrey Gordon. Gordon’s lobbying firm website lists American Bridge as a client.
Earlier this month, Gordon was named chief spokesman for the Herman Cain for president campaign. Gordon had acted as a top foreign policy adviser before his promotion. According to the DailyCaller, Gordon’s official title with the Cain campaign is “Vice President, Communications; Senior Adviser, Foreign Policy & Security.”
Gordon is also a partner at the DC consulting firm that manages the United States operations of Atlantic Bridge. A review of tax disclosure forms show that Atlantic Bridge was also incorporated in the United States. Documents reveal that in 2009, the group was run by lobbyist Adam Werritty, the “U.K. Executive Director,” Lee Cohen, the “Washington DC Director,” Scott Syfert, the “Executive Council Chair,” and Randall Popelka, a former executive director still on the nonprofit’s board of directors. Cohen is the co-founder of Gordon Cohen Strategies LLC, a firm he started with Cain’s adviser, Jeffrey Gordon.
A consistent theme of the Herman Cain campaign is the need to put big business even more in charge of government. Cain has said if he becomes president, he will literally place the CEO of Shell Oil at the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency. Given Cain’s admitted ignorance about foreign policy, it’s no wonder that he has outsourced the foreign policy positions of his campaign to a political operative who currently runs a lobbying firm and who is associated with a nonprofit that is deeply entwined with a military contracting pay-to-play scheme.