Chuck Hagel

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Chuck Hagel official photo.jpg


Family and early life

Military service

Early political career

After Ronald Reagan won the 1980 presidential election, Hagel became a vice chairman of Reagan's inaugural committee in charge of local balls that would be held around the country in parallel with the national celebration. The co-chairman of the committee was fellow Nebraskan Robert Keith Gray.[1][2]

Business career


McCarthy Group and AIS


US Senator

Break from public life


Defense Secretary


Subsequent activities


Government positions

  • Ronald Reagan inauguration committee: Vice chairman for local balls (1980-1981)
  • Deputy VA Administrator: 1981-1982
  • US Senator (R-NE): 1997-2009
  • President's Intelligence Advisory Board: Co-chair (2009-????)[7]
  • Secretary of Defense: 2013-2015


  • Vanguard Cellular: Founder, board member (????-????)
  • McCarthy Group: President of McCarthy & Co. (1992-1995), senior advisor to McCarthy Capital (2009-????)
  • Election Systems & Software: Chairman (1992-1995), CEO (1993-1995)
  • Deutsche Bank: Americas Advisory Board member (2009-????)[8]



ES&S conflict of interest

Political connections

Corporate connections


  1. Fort Lauderdale News, "Fort Lauderdale bounces the ball", 1980/12/11: "Reagan's committee has invited about 100 chambers of commerce around the nation to host such balls as a way to "share the inaugural with people around the country," according to committee co-chairman Robert K. Gray. [...] By an act of Congress, all inaugural activities must be coordinated by non-partisan groups. But according to Chuck Hagel, vice chairman of the Presidential Inauguration Committee for Local Balls, many non-partisan groups are wary of organizing activities for Reagan, a Republican."
  2. Montana Standard, "Inauguration not for everyone", 1981/01/07 (also printed as Syracuse Herald Journal, "Reagan's inaugural geared to rich, powerful", 1981/01/07): "Ronald Reagan's electorate may have crossed all economic lines but only the rich, the powerful and the lucky will celebrate his inaugural here. [...] The social events are expected to raise funds to cover the support costs, says Robert K. Gray, co-chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. [...] "Satellite" balls will be held across the nation. Some are formal, such as the $5 a person ball in Hastings, Neb., and the $10-$15 balls in Pittsburgh of Baltimore, according to coordinator Chuck Hagel. For the money, you'll have a closed-circuit view of the new president and first lady and three to four hours of "almost totally music," Hagel says."
  3. Washington Free Beacon, "Hagel’s Millions", 2013/01/24: "Vanguard Cellular Systems, Inc., a cell phone company Hagel co-founded, came under fire for its FCC licensing strategy in the mid-1980s. Vanguard was one of many companies competing in a lottery process for a limited number of FCC radio spectrum licenses. While other companies filed single license applications, Vanguard investors filed separate applications in multiple markets. Lee Lovett, an attorney who was later convicted in a mail fraud case, reportedly devised the controversial plan. The company made millions after winning several licenses. But critics complained it skewed the lottery process and potentially ran afoul of the law. [...] Hagel entered the cell phone industry in 1982, investing in a startup called Collins, Hagel, and Clarke Inc. The company consolidated with a group of North Carolina investors in 1984 to form Vanguard. Hagel held the role of director and executive vice president at Vanguard until 1987 and remained on the company’s board until 1992. AT&T later bought Vanguard. Hagel’s meteoric rise in the cellular world was aided, in part, by his ability to leverage political connections from his years in government. "The connections Hagel had made while working in Congress and, especially, for Firestone, became an important asset" for the company, wrote Charlyne Berens in her biography Chuck Hagel: Moving Forward. "He has a Rolodex the size of an oil drum," former Vanguard chairman Stuart ‘Dick’ Richardson told the Omaha World Herald in 1996."
  4. Charlyne Berens, Chuck Hagel: Moving Forward (2006), p.73-74 - describes how Chuck Hagel met Michael McCarthy

        Chuck threw himself into his work as president of McCarthy and Company. Hagel and Mike McCarthy had become acquainted in 1988 when John Gottschalk, president of the World-Herald Company and a member of the USO board of directors—and a boyhood acquaintance of Hagel's in Rushville—invited them on a fishing trip to Wyoming. McCarthy had just moved to Omaha from Iowa and founded the McCarthy Group in 1986. The Democratic former Iowan and the Republican former Nebraskan hit it off.
        “It was one of those things that happens with friends,” Hagel said. “The chemistry was just right.”
        Shortly after they met, Hagel accepted McCarthy's offer to serve on the board of American Information Systems (AIS), a small Omaha firm that made electronic voting machines and in which the McCarthy Group had invested. When he went to work for the McCarthy Group full time in 1993, Hagel served as president of a subsidiary, the McCarthy Company. In that role, one of Hagel's first jobs was to raise money to develop cellular-phone systems in places like Egypt and Costa Rica. His work was similar to what he had done at Vanguard.
        Later, because of Hagel's background in cellular phones and his contacts around the world, the McCarthy Group, along with the Thompson family in Lincoln and the Hunt family in Blair, Nebraska, developed a private telephone system in Hungary as the Cold War melted down. “We would never have attempted that without Chuck,” McCarthy said. “He helped expand our horizons, our credibility. And he's very much about getting things done,” a crucial quality in the investment business.
  5. PE Hub, "Chuck Hagel Joining McCarthy Capital", 2009/02/10: "McCarthy Group, LLC announced today that former United States Senator Chuck Hagel will join McCarthy Group’s private equity business, McCarthy Capital Corporation, as senior adviser. Senator Hagel will maintain offices in Omaha and Washington, D.C. “We are privileged to have Chuck involved in our business again. Chuck has a number of national and international opportunities so we are particularly pleased he has chosen to maintain his strong connection to Nebraska in working with us,” said Mike McCarthy, Chairman of McCarthy Group, LLC. [...] Senator Hagel has also accepted an appointment as Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. [...] Senator Hagel is a director of Wolfensohn and Company, a member of Corsair Capital’s board of advisers, and serves on many charitable and public service boards. [...] McCarthy Capital is a middle market private equity firm with offices in Omaha and Denver. Since 1986, McCarthy Capital has invested in over fifty companies, including industry leaders such as Cabela’s, HDR, Election Systems and Software, and Vornado."
  6. Foreign Policy, "Hagel: The White House Tried to ‘Destroy’ Me", 2015/12/18: "Obama had publicly warned Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad that his regime would face consequences if it crossed a “red line” by employing chemical weapons against its own people. Assad did it anyway, and Hagel had spent the day approving final plans for a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missile strikes against Damascus. U.S. naval destroyers were in the Mediterranean, awaiting orders to fire. Instead, Obama told a stunned Hagel to stand down. [...] The president had decided to ignore his own red line — a decision, Hagel believes, that dealt a severe blow to the credibility of both Obama and the United States. [...] The 69-year-old former Nebraska senator and Vietnam War veteran, speaking for the first time about his treatment by the Obama administration, said the Pentagon was subject to debilitating meddling and micromanagement by the White House — echoing criticism made by his predecessors, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta."
  7. Atlantic Council, "Chuck Hagel New Co-Chair of President's Intelligence Advisory Board", 2009/10/28: "President Obama appointed Atlantic Council chairman Senator Chuck Hagel the new co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB), along with former Oklahoma Senator David Boren. The Council congratulates Senator Hagel."
  8. Deutsche Bank, "Deutsche Bank adds Senator Chuck Hagel to Americas Advisory Board", 2009/05/06: "Deutsche Bank today announced that former Senator Chuck Hagel has joined its Americas Advisory Board (AAB). [...] The AAB was created to advise and consult with Deutsche Bank executives and clients on a wide range of strategic and market issues, including business development and growth as well as economic, industry, political and social trends. Board members also advise on client initiatives. Deutsche Bank’s Americas Advisory Board is comprised of 16 prominent executives and government figures from an array of industries and backgrounds. In addition to Hagel, other members are Norm Augustine, John E. Bryson, Michael D. Capellas, Anthony W. Deering, Archie W. Dunham, Benjamin H. Griswold, IV, William R. Howell, Robert L. Johnson, Edward A. Kangas, Ellen R. Marram, Lynn M. Martin, Robert P. May, Michael E. J. Phelps and John W. Snow, as well as emeritus member James Ireland Cash, Jr."
  9. Charlyne Berens, Chuck Hagel: Moving Forward (2006), p.70 - says that Hagel was president of the PSC for 2 years starting in 1990

        At that point he got a call from Mike McKevitt, a former Colorado congressman and an old friend. McKevitt told Hagel the Private Sector Council (PSC) was looking for a new president; he suggested Hagel apply. Hagel said he knew about the PSC and its work and was excited about the possibility of being involved. He flew to Pittsburgh to interview with some of the board members, and they hired him. He took over in late fall 1990 and stayed the better part of two years.
        The council helps link federal departments and agencies with member companies to give the federal officials access to ideas and methods used in the private sector. Departments or agencies can request help in any part of their operations: finance, human resources, information technology, or management. The member companies contribute their employees' expertise at no cost for a limited time. Hagel recruited additional companies to be part of the PSC and said he enjoyed his time there. As was true in every job he'd had, he said, “I learned a lot: new relationships, new friends—it just expanded me and expanded me.”
  10. The Hill, "World leaders attend meeting that they won't talk about", 2005/05/12: "The discussions are private, the location is not publicized and only the most powerful may attend. The 53rd Bilderberg Meeting, a gathering shrouded in secrecy, allegedly took place this past weekend near Munich, Germany, at the Dorint Sofitel Uberfahrt hotel. Several members of Congress have been said to be on the guest list in the past, including Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). [...] Hagel’s office confirmed that he had attended the conference in 1999 and 2000."
  11. Atlantic Council, "Hagel Returns to Atlantic Council as Distinguished Statesman", 2015/05/07: "The Atlantic Council announced today that former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will join the Atlantic Council as a Distinguished Statesman, effective immediately, marking his first policy-oriented affiliation after stepping down from the Obama administration’s cabinet in February. He will also serve as a member of the Council’s International Advisory Board and as a member of the advisory council for the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Secretary Hagel was Chairman of the Atlantic Council from February 2009 to February 2013, during which he presided over one of the most rapid moments of the organization’s growth in its fifty-five-year history, including the launch of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and the Hariri Center. [...] He received the Atlantic Council’s prestigious Distinguished Leadership Award in 2014. [...] Hagel, who previously co-chaired the Atlantic Council’s ground breaking Iran Task Force, will be deeply engaged in substantive strategy and policy projects in his new role. Secretary Hagel welcomed the opportunity to return to the Atlantic Council saying, “Since the end of World War II, the Atlantic Council has been and continues to be an important and relevant institution in world affairs. I look forward to again contributing to its good work.”"

External links

  • Photo of Chuck Hagel and his wife standing next to George H.W. Bush and his wife (probably from sometime in the 1980s)
  • Democratic Underground post claiming that George H.W. Bush sent Hagel to Nebraska: "Witness the recent statements by Senator Hagel against Bush. Keep in mind Bush's daddy sent him to Nebraska where he took over the voting machine company and then ran for office. Hagel wants to run for president. Hagel is in a position in congress where, due to others who can pick up the slack, he can occasionally vote in a manner that seems anit-administration."
  • Speculation on the reason for Hagel's rise through American government
  • New York Times, "The Heartland Dissident", 2006/02/12: "Michael McCarthy, an Omaha merchant banker who once made Chuck Hagel president of his investment bank and is now among his most stalwart backers, said he doubted that Hagel could get very far in presidential politics. But he didn't rule out a race. [...] He toyed briefly with the idea of running for governor of Virginia, then returned to Nebraska in 1992, going to work for Michael McCarthy as an investment banker. One of the companies he looked after, American Information Systems — later rechristened Election Systems and Software — manufactured voting machines in partnership with The Omaha World-Herald, the state's biggest daily."
  • David Vincent, "Who is Going To Steal the 2008 Election?": "Now here’s where we get to look into the big boys playbook. The one-sided manipulations in favor of Republican candidates was making things far too obvious. The new wave of what has been termed the Conservative Democrat movement saw many new right-leaning Democrats win congressional seats. My source believes that they have moved on to a more sophisticated strategy of placing operatives in the Democratic party. What my source termed “psuedo-Democrats, psuedo-independents, or psuedo-libertarians.” Going further to call Senator Hagel a “psuedo-war critic because they knew his ties to the election industry were far too incriminating.” Hagel has become a well-respected vocal critic of the war, but if you look at his Senate voting record, he has acted in lockstep with most all of Bush’s policies. These “psuedo-Democrats” can also be a major reason for the Democratic led congress’ failure to slow down the war and even prevent extending further powers to military industrial and intelligence complex authorities. Let’s not forget, they have not accomplished anything tangible in slowing this war, in fact, a “surge” in fighting has happened under their watch. [...] Oh, and how funny is this little tragic comedy?… On Halloween a spooky Chuck Hagel put on a Democratic Senator Joe Biden mask and came onto the Senate floor jokingly declaring Joe Biden as the next President of the USA. Hahaha. How secure good ole Chuckie boy must be in pissing on the US political process."
  • KVNO, "Chuck Hagel, Bob Kerrey Talk U.S. Presidential Campaign", 2016/10/31
  • Brian Mohr, "Hagel, Omaha and elections", 2019/12/15
  • Alleged connection to the Franklin scandal
    • Democratic Underground thread on Franklin in which Andy Stephenson claims he saw evidence connecting Hagel to Franklin: "Chuck Hagel of Diebold fame is involved with franklin but I cannot find the link any longer. Someone? [...] I was talking about the hagel involvement. I had a link saved on my hard drive that connected him to it. However, when my computer crashed a month or so ago I lost it."
    • Wayne Madsen, "PA Supremes suspend anti-pedophile crusading Attorney General's law license", 2015/09/23-24 (original link) - claims that the Franklin child sex ring was covered up to protect Hagel's political career: "In many ways, the ordeals of Kane and Schmit are very similar. Both were doing their jobs to protect children from predatory pedophile networks when they were faced with manufactured prosecutions. Both were suddenly surrounded by back-stabbing political provocateurs who were more interested in protecting their respective political party's interests: in Kane's case they are operatives out to protect the reputations of Governor Wolf and former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and in Schmit's case it was GOP operatives trying to protect up-and-coming businessman/politician Chuck Hagel and other Republicans, including George H. W. Bush."
    • 2018/01/18 email response by Wayne Madsen: "Hagel's McCarthy Group jointly owned ES&S with the World Herald Company, with which the Ahmanson family was a shareholder also. The newspaper spiked several stories on Franklin on the orders of the Ahmansons and Hagel."