The House Ethics Committee voted to move forward on a full investigation of Rep. Shelley Berkley. Berkley stands accused of using her office to help her husband’s medical practice, which oversaw the kidney transplant program at UMC. When that program was threatened, Berkley signed a letter and made a phone call to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to intervene. Berkley also intervened to prevent cuts in Medicare reimbursements that affected her husband’s practice.
Here’s the Ethics Committee statement on the investigation:
Statement of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics Regarding Representative Shelley Berkley
JUL 9, 2012
In accordance with Clause 3 of House Rule XI and Committee Rules 14(a)(3) and 18, the Committee on Ethics (the Committee) unanimously voted on June 29, 2012, to establish an investigative subcommittee. Pursuant to the Committee’s action, the investigative subcommittee shall have jurisdiction to determine whether Representative Shelley Berkley violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation, or other applicable standard of conduct in the performance of her duties or the discharge of her responsibilities, with respect to alleged communications and activities with or on behalf of entities in which Representative Berkley’s husband had a financial interest.
The Committee has determined to take this action based upon a discretionary review of the allegations, as well as evidence obtained pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), authorized by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee for the 112th Congress. During the course of the Committee’s independent investigation, the Committee received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics regarding this same matter. As provided by House Rule X, clause 1(g) and Committee Rule 17A, the Committee has exclusive jurisdiction over the interpretation, administration, and enforcement of the Code of Official Conduct. Consistent with the Committee’s rules, it reviews OCE’s report and findings without prejudice or presumptions as to the merit of the allegations.
The Committee notes that the mere fact of establishing an investigative subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.
Representative K. Michael Conaway will serve as the Chair of the investigative subcommittee, and Representative Donna F. Edwards will serve as the Ranking Member. The other two members of the subcommittee are Representative Robert E. Latta and Representative Adam Schiff. No other public comment will be made on this matter except in accordance with Committee rules. Pursuant to House Rule XI, Clause 3(b)(8)(B)(iii), and Committee Rule 17A(f)(1), no documents will be released at this time.
And here’s the statement put out by Berkley campaign manager Jessica Mackler in response to the committee’s announcement:
“We are pleased with the committee’s decision to conduct a full and fair investigation, which will ensure all the facts are reviewed. We are confident that ultimately it will be clear that Congresswoman Berkley’s one and only concern was for the health and well being of Nevada’s patients. That’s why she joined then Republican Congressman Dean Heller to prevent Nevada’s only kidney transplant program from being shut down by Washington bureaucrats. With more than 200 Nevada patients desperately waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant, it would have been irresponsible of her not to work with the state’s entire congressional delegation to protect the program.”
And Darren Littell, spokesman for Republican Team Nevada, had this to say:
“The Ethics Committee’s decision is the end of a campaign already struggling to gain traction in Nevada. I bet Attorney General Eric Holder regrets saying Shelley Berkley would make a ‘great Senator’ after today’s news. There’s no doubt Berkley will go back into her bunker now. Given Shelley Berkley’s close relationship with President Obama and his policies, this is a blow to Obama’s chances in November.”
The executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rob Jesmer, called the vote a bipartisan smackdown against Berkley:
“It speaks volumes that even Shelley Berkley’s Democrat colleagues unanimously voted to move forward investigating Berkley’s use of her office to enrich her and her husband. Since Berkley entered the political arena we’ve seen a long pattern of ethical questions surrounding her conduct. Nevadans deserve someone in the Senate who they can trust to work on their behalf and not someone – like Ms. Berkley – who puts her own financial and political interests first.”
But Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, defended Berkley thus:
“Shelley Berkley is a proven fighter for her constituents and a proven winner on the campaign trail, and our support for her campaign remains as strong as ever. Voters will certainly recognize that Shelley always puts the needs of Nevadans first whether she was working to create jobs or to save the only kidney transplant center in the state. What voters will not forgive is Dean Heller’s support for essentially ending Medicare and forcing seniors to pay more than $6,000 more for their health care.”