WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Shadowy groups are running advertisements opposing U.S. President Barack Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, The New York Times reports.
The most prominent group opposing Hagel's Senate confirmation -- which the Times said appears likely despite protestations from some Senate Republicans over Hagel's previous comments perceived by some as anti-Israel -- calls itself Americans for a Strong Defense. It is financed by anonymous donors and is running television commercials opposing Hagel in several Republican senators' home states.
Another group, calling itself Use Your Mandate, purports to be a gay rights group -- Hagel, a Republican, once opposed the nomination of an openly gay man to serve as a U.S. ambassador during his time in the Senate -- but the Times said the firm uses a prominent Republican-leaning firm to buy its own commercial time.
A spokesman for Use Your Mandate denied the allegation it's actually a conservative-funded group and said its donors are comprised of Democratic "gay and LGBT people who have been active in campaigns around the country."
The Times noted it's the first time since the Citizens United case, which allowed essentially unlimited anonymous donations to super PACs, a president's Cabinet nomination has faced serious opposition. Previous nominations have drawn heavy Beltway criticism, but never generated campaign-like spending in opposition.