Foundation concerns could delay Clinton confirmation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Sen. John Cornyn may hold up the nomination of Hillary Clinton to become secretary of state if his concerns about foreign donations to her husband’s foundation are not resolved, a spokesman for the Texas senator said on Monday.

“Senator Cornyn is a strong proponent of complete transparency and has fought for as much throughout his time in office. He is keeping all of his options on the table,” said his spokesman Kevin McLaughlin in an email reply to Reuters, when asked if Cornyn could block Clinton’s nomination.

Democratic lawmakers had hoped to approve President-elect Barack Obama’s proposed Cabinet of top advisers within hours or days of his inauguration at noon (1700 GMT) on Tuesday, but Cornyn’s objections could stall approval of Clinton for the top U.S. diplomatic job by one or two days.

Cornyn sent Clinton a letter on Friday congratulating her on her nomination, but reiterating his belief that the foundation headed by former President Bill Clinton, should refuse all pledges and donations from foreign sources during his wife’s tenure as secretary of state.

“Like many others, I remain deeply troubled that America’s foreign policy and your diplomatic mission will be encumbered by the sweeping global activities of the Clinton Foundation unless tighter foreign fundraising restrictions and transparency protocols are adopted,” he said.

Cornyn said he was willing to consider other options that would reduce “the likelihood of real or perceived conflicts of interest that will result from foreign donations,” but gave no details.

He said he supported many of the disclosure requirements proposed by Sen. Richard Lugar, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and would “go further in several instances.”

The Foreign Relations Committee last week sent Clinton’s nomination to the full Senate by a 16-1 vote, and many expected the New York senator to be the first Cabinet member to be confirmed.

Any senator can put a hold on a nomination or piece of legislation, although given Democratic control of the 100-member Senate means that Clinton still remains certain to win approval eventually.

However, her confirmation may be stalled by several days if Cornyn decides to put a hold on her nomination.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by David Wiessler