The Nevada State Republican Party asked the OCE to investigate whether Berkley broke House rules when she intervened on behalf of a federally funded kidney transplant program in which her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, had a financial interest, though it is unclear whether the office’s referral is related.
The request followed a New York Times story that detailed how Berkley has, over the course of five years, promoted legislation that benefitted Lehrner, who is a practicing nephrologist. Berkley helped block an effort to end a kidney transplant program at the hospital where Lehrner has a contract. A kidney industry political action committee chaired by Lehrner supports Berkley, who is running for Senate.
“As the committee reviews this complaint, they will determine that Congresswoman Shelley Berkley’s only concern is for the well being of Nevada’s patients,” campaign manager Jessica Mackler said in a statement. “That’s why she fought against out-of-state Washington bureaucrats from restricting patients’ access to care and why she joined fellow Reps. Jon Porter and Dean Heller to stop Nevada’s only kidney transplant program from being shut down.”
The committee now has until May 9 to decide whether it will empanel a subcommittee to formally investigate the allegations against Buchanan. At that point, if a subcommittee is not formed, the OCE’s report on the lawmaker, with details about possible ethics violations, will be released. The committee decided to use a election-time rule that will allow it to delay making a decision in Berkley’s case until July 9, nearly a month after her primary.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.