Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) just announced that he will hold up President Obama’s nominees to head the Pentagon and CIA until he gets more information about the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Graham’s justification is puzzling because Obama’s nominees have nothing to do with this issue. But what if the Senator is holding up the nominees — specifically, Chuck Hagel — for another reason?
As we’ve noted before, Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel is a critic of the Pentagon’s spending, calling it “bloated” and demanding that it must be “pared down.” Graham has been a critic of Pentagon cuts, categorically opposing them in a speech this past December.
The Senator is widely considered to be vulnerable to a primary challenge from the right, so he has needed to amass a sizable campaign warchest. To do this, he’s been courting defense industry donors. In this cycle, Boeing is his seventh-largest donor, and Lockheed Martin is his eleventh (together they’ve given $45,100).
Additionally, his second-largest donor is Nelson, Mullins et al, a lobbying firm, giving him $74,084 between its political action committee and employees. The firm has a number of corporate clients, but one of its major ones in 2012 was defense contractor General Dynamics, which paid it $120,000.
Its certainly possible that Graham has ideological objections to Hagel or any of the other Obama nominees he has opposed. But his influx of defense contractor cash creates another possibility.