As my colleague Ben Shapiro reported last week, the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously to open an investigation into alleged improprieties by Nevada Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley. In 2009, the University Medical Center in Las Vegas was under intense scrutiny by federal regulators who were concerned about the very high rate of failure of kidney transplants at the Center. Her intervention with regulators got the feds to back down. Soon after, in 2010, Rep. Berkley’s husband, a physician, received a $738,000 a year contract with UMC. Of course, he was the only bidder.
But, it wasn’t just her husband who apparently profited from her intervention on behalf of the hospital. Her campaign account also received a sizable windfall. In 2006, Berkley’s campaign received a total of $79,000 from health care professionals, $47,000 from individuals and $32,000 from PACS. In 2008, however, after regulators started pressuring UMC, donations to Berkley spiked to $185,000. PAC contributions quadrupled to more than $120,000. That’s a big jump in one cycle.
But, the windfall was just getting started. In the 2010 cycle, after the regulators had backed off, Berkley’s health care donations shot up again to $240,000, with PAC contributions ballooning again to $170,000. In the 2012 cycle so far, her campaign has raised almost $300,000 from the health care industry. This time, the big spike was in individual giving. Contributions from individuals almost tripled, rising from $70,000 in 2010 cycle to over $180,000 in the current cycle.
Of course, 2012 is the first cycle since her husband and his partner physicians were awarded the huge contract from UMC. Probably not at all related.
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