Conservative Groups Line Up Against Hagel

Sunday, 27 Jan 2013 02:30 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Conservative groups are spending time and money to torpedo the nomination of Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's choice for secretary of defense.

One group, “Americans for a Strong Defense,” is financed by anonymous donors and is running ads urging Democratic senators in five states to vote against Hagel, reports The New York Times. Another group, “Use Your Mandate,” bills itself as a liberal gay rights organization, but buys its time through a prominent Republican firm.

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These are just two of a number of groups organizing media campaigns to stop Hagel's confirmation. Donors are believed to be many of the same people who helped raise more than $500 million with the hope of defeating Obama in November.

Nick Ryan, founder of the American Future Fund, one of the groups taking a leading role against Hagel, said his organization was eager to start fighting again.

“Post-election we have new battle lines being drawn with the president; he kicks it off with these nominations and it made sense for us,” Ryan said.

His group, like many others, was formed under a section of the tax code that lets it keep donors' names a secret. After Obama won re-election in November, Republican Party leaders and strategists predicted some donors would pull back, but many of them haven't.

For example, Sheldon Adelson, who was the biggest financier of super PACs formed to defeat Obama, has reached out to GOP Senators, urging them to block Hagel's confirmation, an admittedly difficult task considering the Senate is under Democratic control. It's not clear, however, if Adelson is contributing any money to the effort.

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The fight against Hagel is considered by many to be the largest push against a cabinet nominee since former President George W. Bush's nomination of John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Democrats succeeded in blocking Bolton's nomination in the Senate, prompting the president to appoint him during a congressional recess.

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