Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), the liberal Senate candidate challenging Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), is an ardent friend to Big Labor. At least that’s a centerpiece of her campaign against Heller – and with good reason, since Nevada is heavily unionized.
Union support will be critical to Berkley’s campaign. And Berkley has spent the last few years backing their agenda. One of her preferred targets has been Wal-Mart, the retail giant Big Labor hates for its frequent use of part-time workers to avoid unionization issues. In 2006, Berkley publicly associated with the “Change Wal-Mart, Change America” campaign to get the company to amend its hiring practices.
But while Berkley talks a good game with regard to the pro-union agenda, her financial records show that her husband’s trust owns approximately $35,000 worth of stock in Wal-Mart. In fact, the stock was purchased after Berkley associated with the “Change Wal-Mart, Change America” campaign – it was bought in May 2008. So while Berkley maintains that union tactics aren’t harming the economy, and while she has specifically targeted supposedly anti-union companies, her husband is busy investing in companies that won’t deal with unions. Clearly, Berkley isn’t quite as pro-union in her personal life as she is in her legislative career.
This isn’t the first time Berkley’s and her husband’s finances have created a mess for the Congresswoman to clean up. In March, the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into her alleged attempts to strong-arm federal regulators to help the business interests of her husband, who is involved with a kidney transplant program in Nevada.
This latest revelation about Wal-Mart shouldn’t be surprising. Berkley is not new to the union pandering game. Back when she was casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s highest-ranking political deputy, she played bad cop to the unions on a routine basis. When Adelson started spending money on Republicans, however, she bucked – and Adelson fired her.
Is Berkley a hypocrite? It’s borderline, but the assets hit close enough to home that she had to include them in her Congressional personal financial disclosure forms. She will surely be answering some difficult questions from her union supporters in upcoming days.