Friday May 27th, 2016 8:24PM

Senate Dem: GOP request to Hagel extraordinary

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor
WASHINGTON - The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Friday he will press ahead with a vote on Chuck Hagel's nomination to be defense secretary, rejecting Republicans demands for more financial information from President Barack Obama's choice as setting an unprecedented standard.

In a letter, Sen. Carl Levin provided a point-by-point rebuttal to the GOP requests for data on Hagel's paid speeches and foreign donors to private entities he's been affiliated with, arguing that the requirements exceed the committee's rules and what has been asked of previous defense secretaries, Republican and Democrat.

"The committee cannot have two different sets of financial disclosure standards for nominees, one for Sen. Hagel and one for other nominees," the Michigan Democrat wrote.

His letter was in response to Wednesday letter from 26 Senate Republicans to Hagel insisting that they needed more information before they could vote on his nomination. Among those signing the GOP letter were Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Armed Services panel.

Republicans have asked Hagel to disclose all compensation of more than $5,000 from the past five years - three years more than the law or committee rules require. Levin said the panel's two-year requirement on disclosure is consistent with the Ethics in Government Act as well as past practices for all nominees for Senate-confirmed positions and candidates for federal office.

Levin said the committee's disclosure requirements for nominees have remained the same for 26 years, including his 16 as chairman or ranking member. In that nearly three-decade span, the committee has confirmed defense secretaries and other senior civilian nominees at the Pentagon with far more lucrative and extensive financial holdings than Hagel, including Republicans Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney.

Inhofe said Friday that some members of the committee "believe in order to properly consider this nomination that additional information is required. I am working to address these members' concerns."

Hagel, 66, a former two-term Republican senator and decorated combat veteran in the Vietnam War, has faced fierce GOP opposition, with more than dozen Republicans announcing they will vote against him and several others indicating they were likely to vote no. Hagel has faced a barrage of criticism from lawmakers and GOP-leaning outside groups who have complained that he is too tolerant of Iran, too critical of Israel and willing to slash the nation's nuclear arsenal.

Hagel's halting and uneven testimony at his confirmation hearing before the Armed Services panel undercut his nomination.

This week, Levin postponed an expected vote on the nomination as the GOP pressed for information.

Despite the setbacks, the president's pick to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to win confirmation, with the backing of all 55 Senate Democrats and at least two Republicans - Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Hagel's home state. More than a handful of Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have said they oppose a filibuster of the nomination.

Levin intends to schedule a vote as soon as possible on Hagel's nomination, and congressional aides said a vote could occur next week before the Senate breaks for a weeklong recess.

In his letter, Levin said the Republicans' demand for information about foreign sources of funding to private entities subjects Hagel to a different requirement than all other previous nominees for positions at the Pentagon.

Specifically, the Republican senators want Hagel to disclose whether any of the eight organizations and businesses he was affiliated with after leaving the Senate in 2009 received money from foreign sources. Their letter argued that the information was needed to know whether Hagel received directly or indirectly any "financial remuneration" from foreign governments, sovereign wealth funds, lobbyists and corporations.

But Hagel has already told the committee that neither he nor his wife has received during the last 10 years any compensation from, or been involved in any business transactions with, a foreign government or an entity controlled by a foreign government, Levin wrote.

Levin cited Hagel's role as chairman of the board of directors at the Atlantic Council, a nonprofit think tank, to demonstrate the unusual breadth of the GOP's demands. Among the Atlantic Council's corporate contributors are U.S. companies, such as Chevron, Citigroup and Boeing, and foreign entities, including Polish Telecom, the Istanbul Stock Exchange and All Nippon Airways.

"Over the 16 years that I have served as either chairman or ranking minority member of this committee, we have considered numerous nominations of individuals who were associated with similar thinks tanks, universities and other nonprofit entities," Levin wrote. "Even in the many cases where a nominee received compensation from such a nonprofit entity, we did not require the nominee to disclose the sources of funding provided to the nonprofit entity."

Hagel also has worked for seven for-profit companies based in the United States, Levin wrote. He left four of these businesses in 2010 and has not received any compensation from them during the two-year reporting period covered by law, Levin told Inhofe. Nonetheless, Levin wrote, the Republicans want Hagel to give them 10 years of financial information on foreign investments or money these companies might have received.

"We have considered board members, officers, directors and employers of companies doing business across the full range of our economy," Levin wrote. "In this time, we have never required the nominee to attempt to ascertain and disclose the names of investors in such an entity."

Last month, Hagel told Pentagon officials he would divest some of his financial holdings and resign from several corporate boards and public interest groups to avoid potential conflicts of interest if he wins Senate confirmation.

Well-funded outside groups are keeping up a steady drumbeat of criticism of Hagel. The Emergency Committee for Israel is running an ad on cable in the New York and Washington markets as well as the Sunday morning network news shows assailing Hagel on Iran. The American Future Fund is launching an ad on Sunday that includes sound bites from Hagel's testimony in which the nominee struggled with questions.

Obama announced his nomination of Hagel on Jan. 7. Panetta is stepping down after serving as CIA director and Pentagon chief in the Obama administration.

Read more here:
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 2 years ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 2 years ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 2 years ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Congress letting 55 tax breaks expire at year end
In an almost annual ritual, Congress is letting a package of 55 popular tax breaks expire at the end of the year, creating uncertainty - once again - for millions of individuals and businesses.
2:21PM ( 2 years ago )
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 2 years ago )
Amid shouts of 'shame,' House GOP defeats gay rights measure
Democrats shouted "shame," but House Republicans switched their votes and defeated a measure to protect gay rights
8:03PM ( 1 week ago )
CDC director Freiden warns GOP Zika bill is inadequate
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that a House GOP measure to combat the Zika virus is inadequate to deal with the swelling threat to public health
7:36PM ( 1 week ago )
Trump unveils list of his top picks for Supreme Court
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, released Wednesday a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he's elected to the White House.
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
1st US penis transplant could bring hope to maimed soldiers
A 64-year-old cancer patient has received the nation's first penis transplant, a groundbreaking operation that may also help U.S. veterans maimed by roadside bombs
8:04PM ( 1 week ago )
States dig in against directive on transgender bathroom use
Politicians in Texas, Arkansas and elsewhere are vowing defiance over the Obama administration's new directive on transgender bathroom use
9:19PM ( 1 week ago )