Chuck Hagel

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Chuck Hagel served as a Senator for Nebraska from 1997-2008

Charles Timothy "Chuck" Hagel a member of the Republican Party, was a United States Senator from Nebraska, serving from 1997-2008. (map)

Record and controversies

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how Chuck Hagel voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!

Iraq War

Hagel voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.

For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

Statements and action on the Iraq war

Statements made by Chuck Hagel:

  • August 18, 2005: Hagel described the next six months as being "very critical" also stating that "within that six months' period we're going to see whether the Iraqis are really going to be capable of defending themselves." [1]

Criticism of Iraq War

On August 18, 2005, Hagel became the first Republican U.S. senator to publicly criticize the Iraq war and to call for withdrawal. He has compared the war to Vietnam, openly mocked Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes," and called for a withdrawal of troops to begin "within the next year." [1]

In November of 2005, Senator Hagel made a much-publicized statement saying "To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic." This was in reference to the increasing amount of debate surrounding the Iraq War, and his assertion that the United States should withdraw its troops.

In December of 2005 in reference to Bush the GOP and the Patriot Act's erosion of civil liberties, Hagel made a much-publicized statement saying "I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn't take an oath of office to my party or my president," [2]

On Friday, July 28, 2006 Hagel made another public statement against the war when he referred to it as "an absolute replay of Vietnam." In an interview with The World-Herald, Hagel stated that the Pentagon is wrong to increase the number of American troops Iraq. He also said that American soldiers had become "easy targets" in a country that has turned into "absolute anarchy."[3]

Opposition to President Bush's troop "surge"

On January 24, 2007, Sen. Joe Biden's resolution against a troop "surge" passed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a 12-9 vote. All eleven committee Democrats supported the measure, along with Sen. Hagel. During the committee hearings, Hagel gave a passionate speech against the "surge." The following is an excerpt:

"There is no strategy. This is a ping-pong game with American lives. These young men and women that we put in Anbar province, in Iraq, in Baghdad are not beans. They're real lives. And we better be damn sure we know what we're doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder. We better be as sure as you can be. And I want every one of you, every one of us, 100 senators to look in that camera, and you tell your people back home what you think. Don't hide anymore; none of us. That is the essence of our responsibility. And if we're not willing to do it, we're not worthy to be seated right here. We fail our country. If we don't debate this, if we don't debate this, we are not worthy of our country. We fail our country." (Watch Hagel's remarks at You Tube courtesy of TPM Muckraker)

On February 17, 2007, Hagel was one of seven Republicans to cross party lines and vote in favor of cloture on a non-binding resolution opposing the troop "surge." The measure failed 56-34.

Main article: Congressional actions regarding President Bush’s 2007 proposed troop “surge” in Iraq

2007 Iraq spending bill

On March 27, 2007, Hagel was one of only two Republican Senators to vote against an amendment to the Iraq supplemental spending bill that would have stripped the measure of its troop withdrawal deadline. The amendment was narrowly defeated 48-50. He was also one of two GOP Senators to vote for the final Senate version of the spending bill, which passed the Senate 51-47 on March 29. On April 26, he again was one of the two GOP Senators to vote in favor of the final bill after it went through a conference committee. The bill passed both the House and Senate, but was later vetoed by the President.

Main article: U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007 (H.R.1591)

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal

Criticism of the Bush administration

In January 2006, Hagel took issue with Karl Rove over controversial statements the White House advisor made concerning the mindset of Republicans and Democrats. Hagel said, "Well, I didn't like what Mr. Rove said, because it frames terrorism and the issue of terrorism and everything that goes with it, whether it's the renewal of the Patriot Act or the NSA wiretapping, in a political context." He also said that "dark clouds" are hanging over the Republican party", and "If you look at the environment and the atmospherics politically in this town, read any poll," he said, "the sixth year of a governing party usually ... is not good ... the country is tired, a lot of complications in these international issues, we're at war." [4]

Hagel further criticized the Bush administration, saying, "National security is more important than the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. And to use it to try and get someone elected will ultimately end up in defeat and disaster for that political party." [5]

Hagel also showed an opposing view to the Bush administration as it pertains to the war between Israel and Hezbollah. On August 1, 2006 the Washington Post Hagereported that Hagel supported an immediate cease-fire. Hagel was quoted as saying that "The sickening slaughter on both sides must end now, President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop." [6]

On Sunday, March 25, 2007, Hagel unleashed the following criticisms of the Bush administration.

  • Regarding the U.S. attorney firings controversy, he dismissed the president's conditions on the testimony of Karl Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers and two aides. He stated that "the objective here is to get to the bottom of the issue...Isn’t the objective to find out the truth? Isn’t the objective to be transparent and let the American people know what happened, what went wrong?” [7]

Main article: Bush administration U.S. attorney firings controversy
  • Regarding the Iraq War, he stated that he is "opposed to the president’s current [Iraq] policy," and that "we are undermining our interests in the Middle East, we are undermining our military, we’re undermining the confidence of people around the world in what we’re doing.” [8]

Main article: Congressional actions on the Iraq War
  • Claimed he had a lack of respect for the Constitution and separation of powers, stating that, “No president can dictate to this country, nor should he... This is a constitutional form of government. We have three equal branches of government. No president is bigger than the other two." [9]

Failure to disclose involvement with electronic voting firm

For the first ten weeks of 1996, Hagel served as chairman of American Information Systems (AIS), a voting machine company which later changed its name to ES&S. He also had holdings in the firm's parent group, McCarthy Group Inc., worth between $1 and $5 million. [10] In November 1996, Hagel was elected to the Senate, the first Republican elected from Nebraska since 1974. He came from behind twice during his run (according to polls), first against well known Republican Attorney General Don Stenberg in the primary, and then against popular Democratic Gov. (and eventual senator) Ben Nelson. In fact, one Nebraska newspaper described his victory as a “stunning upset.” [11] In January 1997, the Washington Post called Hagel's victory, "the major Republican upset in the November election." [12] According to Bev Harris of, a group aimed at “consumer protection for elections,” Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely African-American communities that had never before voted Republican. AIS was responsible for counting approximately 80% of the votes in the election. [13] [14] [15]

In a disclosure form filed in 1996, Hagel did not report that he was chairman of AIS during 1996 or go into detail regarding the company’s underlying assets. Rather, he cited his holdings as an “excepted investment fund,” which is exempt from detailed disclosure rules. [16] [17] [18]

On May 23, 1997, Victor Baird, then serving as director of the Senate Ethics Committee, sent a letter to Hagel requesting “additional, clarifying information” for the personal financial disclosure report Hagel filed. In 2002, the issue surfaced again as Charlie Matulka, Hagel’s opponent for reelection, wrote to Baird requesting an investigation into Hagel’s ownership in and nondisclosure of ES&S (the information remained undisclosed as of 2002). Baird replied that Matulka's complaint lacked merit and dismissed the matter. [19] [20] [21]

Under the ethics panel’s regulations at the time, an “excepted investment fund” was one that was “publicly traded (or available) or widely diversified.” The committee had defined a “publicly available” stock or investment as one that could be purchased on a public market or for which information was publicly available. This type of information, some contended, would typically be found in reference outlets such as Moody’s Financial Services Information, Standard & Poor’s register, or Barron’s The Dow Jones and Financial Weekly. A 2003 search of all three by The Hill, however, revealed no references to McCarthy. In addition, a comprehensive report ordered by The Hill from Dun & Bradstreet, a leading financial information firm, indicated that McCarthy's financial information was not publicly available. Michael McCarthy, chairman of the McCarthy Group and Hagel’s campaign treasurer, acknowledged that the company was not publicly traded or widely diversified, but claimed that it was publicly available nonetheless. [22] [23] [24]

On January 25th and 27th of 2003, Baird met with Hagel's office. Later on the 27th, he abruptly resigned his post, ending a sixteen year stint with the committee. Later that day, Baird’s replacement, Robert Walker, changed the committee's definition of “excepted investment fund.” Under the revised definition, the committee would have the ability to decide, based on the specific facts of each case, whether an investment had been made in a publicly available firm. Many argued that the new definition made it virtually impossible to determine whether Hagel, or any other legislator, must report investments in non-traded private companies. [25] [26] [27]

Soon after the change, Lou Ann Linehan, Hagel’s chief of staff, denied that Hagel had ever failed to meet the Senate Ethics Committee’s reporting requirements in his annual financial disclosure forms. She claimed that she was sure that at least one investment advisor and broker confirmed that McCarthy Group Inc. was publicly available. She was unable, however, to offer the name of any investment broker or advisor who consulted with Hagel or his staff on the matter. [28] [29] [30]



Hagel was born October 4, 1946 in North Platte, Nebraska. He graduated from the Brown Institute for Radio and Television in 1966 and from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1971. He served in the U.S. Army infantry, attaining the rank of Sergeant (E-5) from 1967-68 while serving during the Vietnam War. Hagel is a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, receiving the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Private Sector

According to Hagel's Senate biography, he has extensive experience in the corporate world "Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Hagel worked in the private sector as the President of McCarthy & Co., an investment banking firm based in Omaha, Nebraska, and served as Chairman of the Board of American Information Systems (AIS). Before joining McCarthy & Co., Hagel was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Private Sector Council (PSC) in Washington, D.C., Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7 Summit) and President and Chief Executive Officer of the World USO.

"In the mid-1980's, Hagel co-founded VANGUARD Cellular Systems, Inc., a publicly traded corporation. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Hagel to serve as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, a nomination confirmed by the United States Senate. Hagel also served as Deputy Commissioner General of the United States for the 1982 World's Fair. From 1977 through 1980, Hagel was Manager of Government Affairs for The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in Washington, D.C. From 1971 to 1977, he was Administrative Assistant to Congressman John Y. McCollister (R-Nebraska). Beginning in 1969, Hagel worked as a newscaster and talk show host with radio stations KBON and KLNG in Omaha, Nebraska...

"Hagel has served on the Board of Trustees Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust and as Chairman of the $240 million Agent Orange Settlement Fund...Among the institutions for which Hagel serves as a Board or Advisory Committee member are: the Institute of Politics at Harvard University; International Republican Institute; the German Marshall Fund's Trade and Poverty Forum; the Eisenhower World Affairs Institute; the Private Sector Council; the Ripon Society; the American Red Cross; Bread for the World; and the Council on Foreign Relations. Hagel is a Trustee at Bellevue University and Hastings College. Hagel is co-chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Corporate Council.

"In the mid-1980's, Hagel co-founded VANGUARD Cellular Systems, Inc., a publicly traded corporation. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Hagel to serve as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, a nomination confirmed by the United States Senate. Hagel also served as Deputy Commissioner General of the United States for the 1982 World's Fair. From 1977 through 1980, Hagel was Manager of Government Affairs for The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in Washington, D.C. From 1971 to 1977, he was Administrative Assistant to Congressman John Y. McCollister (R-Nebraska). Beginning in 1969, Hagel worked as a newscaster and talk show host with radio stations KBON and KLNG in Omaha, Nebraska."[31]

Hagel is the former CEO of American Information Systems Inc. (AIS), which changed its name to Electronic Systems & Software (ES&S) in 1997. Voting machines made by AIS have been the focus of intense scrutiny since the 2000 Presidential election due to their alleged susceptibility to fraud and tampering.

Senate Career

In 1996, Hagel ran for the US Senate against Ben Nelson, who was the governor of Nebraska at the time. Although many people believed he had no chance of winning, he won an upset, receiving 54% of the votes (Nelson was elected to Nebraska's other Senate seat in 2000). Six years later in 2002, Hagel overwhelmingly won re-election with over 83% of the vote, the largest margin of victory in any statewide race in Nebraska history.

Hagel is often characterized as a political maverick, similar to fellow Vietnam War veteran Republican Senator John McCain. In the 2000 Presidential election, Hagel was considered "a key advocate for the Bush campaign, and with his experience on the Senate Commerce Committee focusing on telecommunications and trade."[32] More recently, Hagel has been critical of the Bush administration's international policy and on framing national security isues along party lines.[33]

In 2000, Hagel was considered as a Vice Presidential running mate for George W. Bush, though he was co-chairman of John McCain's bid for the Republican nomination.(Cached A.P. story, "Vice President Chuck Hagel?" May 27, 2000)

In June of 1999, Hagel attended the annual Bilderberg meeting in Sintra, Portugal. [34]

Presidential bid 2008

In May 2007, Sen. Hagel met with New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, over what could become an independent ticket for the presidency. When asked Hagel said, "It’s a great country to think about a New York boy and a Nebraska boy to be teamed up leading this nation".[2]

Retirement from politics

On September 10, 2007, Hagel announced that he would not seek a third term in the Senate, and that he would also not be running for President in 2008. He stated, “I will not seek a third term in the United States Senate, nor do I intend to be a candidate for any office in 2008. It has been my greatest honor and privilege to serve my country and represent my fellow Nebraskans in the U.S. Senate. My family and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity and the trust placed in me by the people of Nebraska. It has enriched all of us.”[3]

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00005301&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for Chuck Hagel
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and Affiliations

Committee assignments in the 110th Congress (2007-2008)

Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

Coalitions and Caucuses

  • Deputy Whip, Republican Caucus (1996-present).
  • Former chair, Senate Global Climate Change Observer Group
  • Former chair, Senate Oversight Task Force
  • Co-chairman, Congressional-Executive Commission on China
  • NATO Observer Group

Boards and other Affiliations

Hagel serves on the Board or Advisory Committee[35] of the following:

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Chuck Hagel. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC Office:
248 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2704
Web Email

District Office- Kearney:
4111 Fourth Avenue, Suite 26
Kearney, NE 68845
Phone: 308-236-7602
Phone: 308-236-7501
Fax: 308-236-7473

District Office- Lincoln:
294 Federal Building
100 Centennial Mall North
Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: 402-476-1400
Fax: 402-476-0605

District Office- Omaha:
11301 Davenport Street, Suite 2
Omaha, NE 68154
Phone: 402-758-8981
Fax: 402-758-9165

District Office- Scottsbluff:
115 Railway Street, Suite C102
Scottsbluff, NE 69361
Phone: 308-632-6032
Fax: 308-632-6295

Articles and resources


Related SourceWatch articles


Articles by Chuck Hagel

Articles about Chuck Hagel

Local blogs and discussion sites

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: U.S. Senate
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Deputy Whip of the Republican Caucus (1996-2009), Former chair of the Senate Global Climate Change Observer Group, Former chair of the Senate Oversight Task Force, Co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, NATO Observer Group
Committees: Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs, Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs/Subcommittee on Financial Institutions, Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs/Subcommittee on Housing Transportation and Community Development, Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs/Subcommittee on Securities Insurance and Investment, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on African Affairs, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
November 5, 1996
First Took Current Office:
January 7, 1997
Next Election:
Term Ends:
January 3, 2009
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
Veterans Administration, Deputy Administrator
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
1. 4111 Fourth Avenue, Suite 26, Kearney, NE 68845
Phone: 308-236-7602 / Fax: 308-236-7473
2. 294 Federal Building, 100 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: 402-476-1400 / Fax: 402-476-0605
3. 11301 Davenport Street, Suite 2, Omaha, NE 68154
Phone: 402-758-8981 / Fax: 402-758-916
4. 115 Railway Street, Suite C102, Scottsbluff, NE 69361
Phone: 308-632-6032 / Fax: 308-632-6295

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

Phone: / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: October 4, 1946

  1. "Hagel: Iraq growing more like Vietnam," CNN, August 18, 2005.
  2. Klaus Marre, "Hagel hints at independent White House bid," The Hill, May 13, 2007.
  3. Aaron Blake, "Hagel bows out of politics," The Hill, September 10, 2007.
  4. International Board, U.S./Middle East Project, accessed October 25, 2009.
  5. Directors, Ploughshares Fund, accessed April 19, 2010.
  6. Global Strategy Forum Advisors, organizational web page, accessed July 2, 2012.