Levin says Republicans holding Hagel to different standard than any other nominee

Alexis Levinson | Political Reporter

In a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jim Inhofe, committee chair Carl Levin said that Republicans are attempting to hold Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel to a different standard than any other nominee had been held to before.

The letter was in response to a letter Wednesday sent by Inhofe, and signed by 25 other Republicans, which said that they would oppose Hagel’s nomination unless he made further financial disclosures.

Opposition from Republicans led Levin to postpone the committee vote on Hagel’s nomination, which was originally scheduled for this week, because “the committee’s review of the nomination is not yet complete.”

In the letter sent Friday, Levin said he was felt Republicans were requiring an amount of disclosure unprecedented in the committee’s history.

“This letter appears to insist upon financial disclosure requirements that far exceed the standard practices of the Armed Services Committee and go far beyond the financial disclosure required of previous Secretaries of Defense,” Levin wrote, noting that the committee requirements on that subject were “well-defined.”

“We have applied these disclosure requirements and followed this process for all nominees of both parties throughout the 16 years that I have served as Chairman or Ranking Minority Member of the committee. I understand that the same financial disclosure requirements and processes were followed for at least the previous 10 years, during which Senator Sam Nunn served as Chairman or Ranking Minority Member,” Levin wrote.

Republicans requested that Hagel disclose “all compensation over $5,000” received over the past five years, as well as “any foreign funding of eight private entities from which Senator Hagel has received compensation since leaving the Senate.”

Levin wrote that Hagel had already satisfied the first demand for the last two years, and said that any conflicts of interests resulting from the second fact were dealt with on the committee questionnaire which “asks whether, during the last ten years, the nominee or his spouse has ‘received any compensation from, or been involved in any financial or business transactions with, a foreign government or an entity controlled by a foreign government.'”

“The committee cannot have two different sets of financial disclosure standards for nominees, one for Senator Hagel and one for other nominees,” Levin concluded.

Republicans have expressed serious reservations about confirming Hagel as secretary of defense. A number of outside interest groups are running ad campaigns targeting the former Republican senator, for his position on Iran, among other things.

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