Another Obama pick in trouble. When will the word "vetting" start being used in conjunction with Barry? WASHINGTON -- The White House's nominee for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, has earned more than $700,000 in speaking and consulting fees since the beginning of 2008, with some of the payments coming from troubled financial firms and from a firm that invests in contractors for federal national security agencies, according to financial disclosures released Wednesday. Mr. Panetta received $56,000 from Merrill Lynch & Co. for two speeches and $28,000 for a speech for Wachovia Corp., according to disclosures released ahead of Thursday's scheduled Senate hearing on Mr. Panetta's nomination. Both Merrill and Wachovia reported big losses last year and were acquired by larger firms. The Wachovia honorarium was dated Oct. 30, and the last Merrill Lynch honorarium was dated Oct. 11, according to disclosure forms filed by Mr. Panetta in connection with his nomination. At the time, Bank of America had agreed to a rescue of Merrill Lynch; Wachovia had agreed to be acquired by Wells Fargo & Co. View Full Image Associated Press The Senate confirmation hearing for Leon Panetta, nominated to be director of the CIA, is scheduled for Thursday. Mr. Panetta's disclosure form illustrates how retired politicians commonly make money giving speeches and consulting for prominent companies with significant interests before the government. That was one element in the controversy over the cabinet nomination of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who withdrew Tuesday. The former White House chief of staff's disclosure form also shows the delicate balance President Barack Obama is trying to strike -- trying to curb the influence of lobbyists, while relying on Washington veterans who often help clients navigate the halls of power. Mr. Panetta's forms show that he performed government affairs consulting last year and also sat on the board of a public affairs firm that lobbies Congress. Like Mr. Daschle, who also worked for a firm with lobbying clients, Mr. Panetta doesn't violate Mr. Obama's ban on hiring registered lobbyists. "We anticipate that [Thursday's] hearing will focus on the substance of Mr. Panetta's views about how to strengthen our intelligence gathering and keep our nation safe, as all of Mr. Panetta's income and investments have been thoroughly reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said. Mr. Panetta also received a $28,000 honorarium from the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm that owns companies doing business with national-security agencies of the U.S. government. Carlyle holds a majority stake in the government consulting arm of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., which works for the CIA and other agencies. A Carlyle spokesman said Mr. Panetta was paid to speak at an investor conference and that the matter was unrelated to Booz Allen or any other defense contractors. Mr. Panetta also reported receiving a $60,000 "Governmental Advisor Fee" from the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the shipping industry. The group lobbies the federal government regarding terrorism laws that affect shipping. A spokesman for the association didn't respond to a request for comment. Mr. Panetta is a former Congressman from central California who served as White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. A White House spokesman said Mr. Panetta "provided consulting services on port security issues and some labor issues" to the Pacific Maritime Association. The spokesman said Mr. Panetta was "unaware" if his work was related to lobbying efforts by PMA in Washington that were described in public disclosure forms. Regarding potential conflicts of interest involving his speaking fees from Carlyle and other firms, the spokesman said, "All of his income and investments have been thoroughly reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics, and he will abide by whatever they require." Fleishman Hillard, a large public affairs and lobbying firm, also paid Mr. Panetta $130,000 in director's fees. Fleishman Vice Chairman Paul Johnson said Mr. Panetta advises firm clients on policy and economic issues but performs "absolutely no lobbying or government relations work." Another source of income for Mr. Panetta was California State University, which hosts the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a nonprofit foundation. Last night, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee posed a series of new questions to Mr. Panetta about his finances, according to a Senate aide. The panel is seeking information on his relationship to a nonprofit firm called EduCap Inc. that is under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service. EduCap and a sister firm donated $50,000 to Mr. Panetta's institute and provided flights on its corporate jet to Mr. Daschle and other Washington figures.