Top Senate Democrat Says GOP Demands On Hagel ‘Far Exceed’ Previous Nomination Standards

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) told ranking member Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) in a letter on Friday that the demands he and his GOP colleagues have made in asking for more information from Chuck Hagel before his confirmation vote to be the next Pentagon chief “far exceed” the standard that previous nominees have had to meet.

Twenty-five Senate Republicans sent Hagel a letter on Tuesday saying they opposed a vote on his confirmation unless Hagel disclosed numerous pieces of financial information, many of which the former Republican senator has previously said he is not legally obliged to give.

Levin said on Thursday the demands were unprecedented and went “way beyond what the rules of the committee are.” Levin backed up his comments in the letter to Inhofe today:

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. […]

There are two unprecedented elements to the financial disclosure demanded by the February 6, letter: (1) the disclosure of “all compensation over $5,000 that [Senator Hagel has] received over the past five years”; and (2) the disclosure of any foreign funding of eight private entities from which Senator Hagel has received compensation since leaving the Senate (including the date, source, and specific amount of each foreign contribution). Each of these demands goes well beyond what the committee has required of any previous nominee. […]

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

Experts agree with Levin. “I think it’s a pretty ridiculous and outrageous thing to ask,” Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute told the Daily Beast this week. “You could say that there’s been requests for detailed information [in the past], but this goes even beyond the intrusive questionnaires candidates fill out during the vetting process.”

Levin postponed the committee’s vote on Hagel’s nomination this week due to the GOP obstruction but a statement accompanying the letter to Inhofe said “Levin intends to hold a committee vote on the Hagel nomination as soon as possible.”

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