Washington (CNN) – Supporters of Chuck Hagel formed an organization to fight back against attacks directed at the former Republican senator, but for now have decided not to launch a political campaign style defense of the new Secretary of Defense nominee.
The pro-Hagel group, Americans for Strategic Leadership, is headed by former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Burt, who has worked alongside Hagel in several foreign policy capacities, confirmed a source close to the group. A representative with Americans for Strategic Leadership would only speak about the group on the condition of anonymity.
Another source familiar with the organization said Americans for Strategic Leadership is set up as a 501c4, the IRS designation for a tax exempt organization with no fundraising limits or disclosure requirements.
As of now, Americans for Strategic Leadership does not think it needs to defend Hagel, whose nomination will soon be considered by the U.S. Senate, said the source close to the group.
"For now we have decided at this point … the people who should take the lead are the White House and Pentagon," said the source.
This source also added that he thought the opposition to Hagel's nomination by some conservatives and activists was "unfair."
"Our effort was focused on getting the record straight," said the source close to the group.
But prior to President Barack Obama's nomination of Hagel Monday to succeed current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Americans for Strategic Leadership was making calls to help fund the campaign including to leaders in the defense industry, according to the source familiar with the organization.
This source, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, told CNN one defense industry executive was told last week the nomination was imminent, and the group needed to be prepared to defend Hagel.
The source close to Americans for Strategic Leadership acknowledged that fundraising calls were made, but said the solicitations were not directed at a specific industry, rather than individuals.
"What we did assemble is a list of people I would call the 'foreign policy and national security community,' and some of those may have worked with a defense company," said the source, adding the people contacted knew Hagel.
The source said any money that was raised by the Americans for Strategic Leadership would be returned.