08 February 2013

“Two different sets of financial disclosure statements”

Sen. Carl Levin pointed out this week’s example of an attempt to apply double standards to President Barack Obama’s administration. In an open letter to Jim Imhofe and other Republican colleagues who had demanded that Chuck Hagel provide much more information before being confirmed as Secretary of Defense, Levin said:

I read with some concern a February 6, 2013, letter that you signed with 25 other Republican Senators, demanding that former Senator Chuck Hagel provide additional financial disclosure information in connection with his nomination to serve as Secretary of Defense.  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. . . .

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.  During this period, the committee has confirmed eight Secretaries of Defense (Secretaries Carlucci, Cheney, Aspin, Perry, Cohen, Rumsfeld, Gates, and Panetta), as well as hundreds of nominees for other senior civilian positions in the Department. . . .

The committee cannot have two different sets of financial disclosure standards for nominees, one for Senator Hagel and one for other nominees.
Only a few months ago, the Republican Party united behind a billionaire who offered less personal financial disclosure than any other Presidential candidate in recent history. These Senators’ sudden shift to seeking more information hardly seems to be based on principle, therefore. Some of those politicians appear to oppose Hagel mainly because they feel personally betrayed by his changing appraisal of America’s military activity in Iraq. But it seems unlikely that so many Senators would erect these double standards if Hagel had been nominated by another President.

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