Earlier this month, a new group called the Bipartisan Coalition for American Security announced that two former senators — Scott Brown (R-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) — would serve as its honorary co-chairs.
BCAS is a non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization, advocating for greater U.S. interventionism, specifically to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, backed by increased military, diplomatic and military spending, to draw brighter lines between enemies and allies of the United States.
The organization is still in its infancy, and Brown and Lieberman are intended to assure it has real access to power and draw more money and talent in its direction.
That strategy is well worn in Washington D.C., and in this case is being executed by Elliott Broidy.Broidy, pictured below with Benjamin Netanyahu in 2008, is a wealthy and well-connected Israeli investor who runs a capital management fund in Los Angeles and has been an active philanthropist for many years. He is the chairman of BCAS’ advisory board and the driving force behind the new group.
But he was also involved in an infamous pay-to-play corruption scandal with administrators of the New York state pension system.
In 2009, he admitted that he had bribed state controller officials to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in order to secure $250 million in pension fund business for his then-firm Markstone Capital.
But in exchange for his cooperation with the state attorney general investigation, Broidy was allowed to withdraw his felony plea and cop to a misdemeanor instead. He was sentenced in November 2012 and avoided any jail time.
In an interview with TPM Thursday, Lieberman explained both why he supports the BCAS mission, and why he signed on despite Broidy’s troubles.
“I’ve probably known Elliott in one way or another for 10 years, this was a very difficult chapter in his life and also for those of us who’ve come to know and respect him,” Lieberman said. “In the end I know that he pleaded to a misdemeanor and he paid an amount of money to the state in fines that was in excess of what he’d gained” through his actions.
Broidy received a compliment from the judge presiding over the case for paying $18 million in restitution to the state fund.
“It was unlike anything else that’s happened in his life,” Lieberman added. “He’s been a success in his business and also in philanthropy and deserves a second chance. When he first came to me and talked about it [I decided] I’m not going to not get involved because someone will raise a question that Elliott will answer. But in a sense he paid the price for what had happened and now he wants to be a constructive person in a lot of different ways, including charity, but he very much wanted to be instrumental in creating a bipartisan pro-security pro-American foreign policy.”
Lieberman spoke in great detail about what he believes is in BCAS’ future.
“This wasn’t an idea that was Scott Brown’s or mine, but it’s a good idea,” he told me. “I worry that there is a growing drift away from internationalism in segments of both political parties. And there’s not an organized bipartisan [PAC] that is prepared to both educate or advocate to the public why America’s continuing international leadership role is so important to our freedom … and why it should be bipartisan.”
Lieberman said the group is less likely to be a hybrid think tank and advocacy shop, but more like a pure public education and advocacy firm
“What’s more likely to happen is communication in various ways of ideas to the public about why it’s important for America not to recede as we have in the past for the world,” he said. “We can come into a state and say senator ‘a’ or congresswoman ‘b’ has had the guts to take this position and we hope you’ll call them and thank them. … I don’t think it’ll be an actual think tank but I wouldn’t be surprised if this coalition will sponsor you might call them colloquia or retreats at which topics of national security and foreign policy are discussed.”
Top of Lieberman’s list was advocating for a larger Pentagon and State Department budgets.
“This was something brewing within Elliott, something he thought was important,” Lieberman said.