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Ethics Panel Weighs Whether to Continue Shelley Berkley Case

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Shelley Berkley will learn today whether she will face a conflict-of-interest probe into her effort to save a kidney transplant program at a Las Vegas hospital.

The details in large part came from a New York Times story published earlier that month detailing how Berkley, over the past five years, had promoted legislation and urged regulators to act in ways that benefited both the transplant program and dialysis centers in the state. Berkley’s husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, is a nephrologist who has a more than $700,000-a-year contract with University Medical Center and a medical practice that owns dialysis centers.

The committee announced in March that it had received the matter from the OCE and that it would invoke an election-time rule that allows it to delay making a decision on whether a referral merits formal investigation until after the Nevada primaries.

“The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” Ethics Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and ranking member Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said in a March 23 statement.

The committee could announce that it will formally investigate the matter, dismiss it outright or allow it to revert back to a preliminary and open-ended stage that will require no further comment. Unless an investigative subcommittee is formed, the contents of the OCE’s report on Berkley will be released.

“Regardless of what the committee announces, this election is going to be what it has always been about: Shelley Berkley’s commitment to fighting for Nevada’s middle class families by working to create good paying jobs and incumbent Senator Dean Heller’s record of carrying [a] Wall Street agenda,” Berkley campaign manager Jessica Mackler said in a statement on Friday. “Should the committee conduct a full  investigation, they will find that Shelley Berkley’s one and only concern was for the well being of Nevada’s patients.”

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