Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., whose wife Jackie Clegg Dodd sits on the boards of four health care companies, disputed the suggestion that his wife's career could pose a conflict of interest.
"It's offensive to my wife that you be even talking about it," he told "FOX News Sunday."
"These companies are research companies. They're not involved at all, she never lobbies in Congress, never been up petitioning on their behalf at all," he said, calling his wife a "highly professional woman" who "deserves to have a career."
He said "there's no reason" for her to step down from her posts and that an ethics lawyer even reviewed the situation for potential conflicts of interest.
He said the questions are "offensive" because similar questions are not being raised about the husbands of female members of Congress.
Dodd is filling in for ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which will soon start work on a health care bill. Dodd will shepherd the legislation through the Senate.
His financial disclosure report was just one of several examples of lawmakers with ties to the medical industry.
The report showed his wife serves on the boards of Javelin Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cardiome Pharma Corp., Brookdale Senior Living, and Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.