Hagel vote postponed as committee pushes for financial disclosure

posted at 7:31 pm on February 6, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy reported on calls for delay by GOP senators Tuesday, and confirms a delay today:

At Hagel’s Jan. 31 confirmation hearing, ranking Republican James Inhofe (R-OK) noted that the committee had requested Hagel provide all of the speeches he had delivered over the last five years, since he left the Senate, including disclosing who paid him for them. Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) gave Hagel a deadline of Monday at 5 p.m. to provide more information for the record. Hagel testified that many of his speeches were private, not videotaped, and often did not include prepared remarks, but that he would comply with all legal requirements.

On Tuesday afternoon, committee member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told The Cable that the deadline had passed and that the committee had not been given the information it requested, specifically on who paid Hagel to give speeches. “A number of senators wrote and asked for additional financial information that I thought was reasonable and the chairman agreed and directed that information be provided by yesterday. It has not been provided. Those were reasonable requests,” Sessions said. “I believe the request for financial information was legitimate and should be complied with before a vote takes place.”

A Sen. Ted Cruz letter on the subject has two dozen signatories:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) distributed a letter to his Republican colleagues calling on SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D., Mich.) to delay a committee vote until Hagel responds to the numerous questions about his financial entanglements, according to multiple Senate sources.

The letter has garnered at least two dozen signatures thus far, the sources said. The signatories include every GOP member of SASC.

“Your refusal to respond to this reasonable request [for more information] suggests either a lack of respect for the Senate’s responsibility to advice and consent or that you are for some reason unwilling to allow this financial disclosure to come to light,” Cruz and his colleagues state in the letter sent late Wednesday to Hagel.

And, Hagel has dug in.

President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that he will not provide foreign financial details for the corporate and nonprofit organizations he was affiliated with since he left the Senate in 2009.

Republican members of the committee asked Hagel last week for information on whether any of the organizations received funding from any foreign government, individual, or corporation — a request he declined late Tuesday in a letter citing confidentiality agreements.

“[T]he information you seek is legally controlled by the individual entities and not mine to disclose,” he said, adding that he was not involved in the day-to-day operation of the organizations. “As a board-member, I have a fiduciary duty that includes the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of non-public corporate information. The information may also be subject to various other legal requirements or contractual arrangements that prohibit its disclosure.”

According to a senior GOP aide close to the confirmation process, “Senators are not reacting well to this response.”

Another wrinkle is an investigation of a sexual harassment charge brought in 2007 by a female staffer in Hagel’s office against a male superior, which did not involve Hagel himself.

Sessions also told The Cable that he was waiting for the results of a previously undisclosed investigation by the Republican committee staff into a complaint by a former aide involving another Hagel aide. Three GOP congressional aides confirmed that the committee was looking into the complaint, although there is no evidence that Hagel was directly involved or even was aware of the incident in question.

The aides said that over the last two weeks, the minority committee staff had interviewed several former Hagel staffers who came forward to complain about how the former senator had managed his office. The staff found none of their complaints worth pursuing aside from that of the one former junior female staffer, whom the committee interviewed late last month. According to Sessions and all three aides, the female staffer told the committee she had been sexually harassed by a senior male staffer while working in Hagel’s office in 2007. One aide said the alleged harassment included “inappropriate statements and conduct.”

Neither the accuser nor the accused responded to requests for comment, but The Cable spoke with Lou Ann Linehan, Hagel’s chief of staff at the time of the alleged incident.

“I remember handling it, I thought it was handled. I did not bring it to the senator. I would not have taken it to the senator unless it required a termination and that wasn’t the case,” she said. “The term sexual harassment shocks me a little bit. I wouldn’t have put up with anything that was actually sexual harassment. I had a very low tolerance for it. I don’t put up with that stuff. Hagel didn’t tolerate it, I didn’t tolerate it.”

Conventional wisdom and the barometer McCain say it’s still unlikely Hagel will be filibustered, but the issues are mounting and Hagel’s unwillingness or inability to answer them could change some minds. One thing we know for sure, though— what a winner of a pick by President Obama. Competent, smooth, impressive, with the ability to unite, and worth every scintilla of political capital expended upon him.

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