Last week, Washoe County Republican Party Chairman David Buell filed an ethics complaint with the Federal Elections Commission after Senate candidate Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) allegedly coordinated her activities with the Nevada Democratic Party. Under Nevada law, only the party nominee can coordinate with the state party; Berkley wasn’t yet the nominee. The Nevada Democratic Party had sent out campaign mailers promoting Berkley by name.
That seems like relatively mild stuff, especially since Berkley will almost undoubtedly be the Democratic nominee to face Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). But it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Berkley’s dishonesty.
According to Citizens for Ethics, Berkley has routinely directed pressure toward federal agencies to help funnel cash to her husband, Dr. Lawrence Lehrner, a Nevada nephrologist and president of Kidney Specialists of Southern Nevada (KSSN). KSSN has worked with kidney transplant programs around the state.
In 2008, for example, the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada (UMC) used KSSN’s services … and quickly fell under the scrutiny of Medicare, which found that it shouldn’t be funded thanks to the high rate of death. Federal regulators also investigated whether Lehrner’s KSSN was using unqualified doctors for patient screenings. In October 2008, federal officials told the hospital that Medicare reimbursements would cease by the end of the year.
That’s where Berkley came in. She sent a letter along with two other Nevada House members, asking the head of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reconsider their decision. CMS quickly agreed to a compromise. KSSN’s renewed contract with UMC the following year netted them in excess of $700,000.
Berkley is always a major proponent of federal funding of kidney care – and the kidney care industry generously donates to her campaigns (in excess of $140,000). The Renal Physicians Association (RPA) has as one board member Dr. Lehrner – and, not coincidentally, their associated PAC has given Berkley more money than any other candidate for federal office.
The list of malfeasance goes on and on. No wonder the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into Berkley in March. These issues will dog Berkley all the way up to the election.