Washington Secrets

Critics: Chuck Hagel hearing should wait for financial disclosure

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

President Obama's pick to head the Pentagon is coming under new fire over his financial ties to the defense industry, with one group Thursday demanding that his confirmation hearing be postponed until after he releases his finances and the Senate has a chance to review them.

"The Senate committee should take a slow and measured approach to the nomination of a cabinet official so crucial to the security of our nation," Nick Ryan, founder of American Future Fund, one of Hagel's leading critics. "Current Secretary Leon Panetta has stated he will stay until his successor is confirmed. So why the rush?" added Ryan, an Iowa political consultant whose conservative group focuses on free market issues.

His group said that since leaving the Senate, the former Nebraska senator's finances have become intermingled with defense contractors and overseas investments. Hagel hasn't released his financial disclosure forms yet.

Others noted that Sen. John Kerry, expected to win confirmation as secretary of State, this week agreed to divest his holdings to avoid conflicts of interest.

A source close to the confirmation process told Secrets that Hagel's financial disclosure forms will be released in advance of his hearing, "as is practice for all nominees."

Hagel's critics, however, want more time to review his financial disclosure for conflicts.

Below is the full statement American Future Fund provided to Secrets:

AFF Calls on Senate to Postpone Hagel Confirmation Hearing

Calls for close examination of Hagel's financial disclosures

Des Moines, IA - American Future Fund is calling on the US Senate Armed Services Committee to postpone Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary until after his financial disclosure is made public and fully vetted.

Chuck Hagel's nomination was formally submitted to the Senate on Tuesday, January 22. According to the rules, he has five days to submit his financial disclosures which means they might receive it next Monday or Tuesday giving the committee only a day or two for review in advance of Thursday's hearing.

Since leaving the US Senate, Hagel's livelihood has become intermingled with defense contractors and overseas investments. And questions remain about his past ethics lapses and positions with regard to radical Iran. If confirmed, Hagel is in a position to control significant parts of the defense budget. The Senate committee has a moral and legal obligation to carefully review the background of a person nominated for any cabinet post. These circumstances call for a close examination which cannot possibly be accomplished in one or two days.

"The Senate committee should take a slow and measured approach to the nomination of a cabinet official so crucial to the security of our nation," stated AFF Founder Nick Ryan. "Current Secretary Leon Panetta has stated he will stay until his successor is confirmed. So why the rush?"

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