Conservative group’s new ad questions Hagel’s ethical record

The conservative American Future Fund (AFF) unveiled a new national ad campaign Wednesday questioning former Sen. Chuck Hagel's (R-Neb.) ethical record.

The group, which is opposing Hagel's nomination to be secretary of Defense, accuses him of accepting gifts from lobbyists and campaign cash from the banking industry as a senator. 

"While serving in the Senate, Chuck Hagel declined to publicly disclose millions in underlying assets," says the voice-over in the ad, titled "Record." "Hagel accepted gold-plated trips from lobbyists and campaign cash from banking interests he was supposed to be regulating. Now Hagel sits on the board of Chevron which receives hundreds of millions in Pentagon contracts.

"How can Chuck Hagel run the Pentagon with so many ethical questions about his own record?" the voice-over goes on to ask. 

The group is spending $500,000 on the ads, which will appear on Fox News and CNN, the latest in a series of anti-Hagel ads from the conservative group.

The ads come as Hagel, President Obama's nominee to replace outgoing Secretary Leon Panetta, meets with a number of senators ahead of his confirmation hearings. On Tuesday Hagel met separately with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz). Hagel is set to meet with more senators in the coming days.

Many Republican lawmakers have said they would oppose Hagel, questioning his support for Israel and his stance on Iran. But Hagel's nomination was bolstered earlier this month when he received the backing of Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.).

American Future Fund is not the only group campaigning against Hagel's nomination. Another group, Americans for a Strong Defense, recently began targeting a number of Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014 on Hagel. The ads, like previous ads from AFF, urge the senators to vote against Hagel's confirmation.

"It is critical that before any confirmation hearings take place, the Senate Armed Services Committee carefully examine not just his votes but potential conflicts of interest within his financial disclosures that may be disqualifying to his nomination," AFF founder Nick Ryan said in a statement. 

"We need a serious leader at the Pentagon when dealing with the growing nuclear threat of Iran, and Hagel’s past business dealings must be examined and questioned before he can be brought before the Senate for confirmation," he added.