Democratic Congressman Shelley Berkley’s Campaign for Senate released a television ad that claimed her opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Dean Heller, was implicated in a $64 million diamond scam. By Monday, every major media outlet in Nevada declared the ad was false.
John L. Smith at the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported:
The television commercial accuses former Nevada Secretary of State Heller of failing to interrupt the $64 million fraud perpetrated at Urban Casavant’s CMKM Diamonds Inc. while it was printing and selling, authorities alleged, 800 billion shares of worthless stock to 40,000 starry-eyed investors.
The consensus view is the commercial was an unsuccessful attempt by Berkley’s campaign to adjust the focus from the House Ethics Committee probe she’s facing to Heller’s past as the state’s supposed securities regulator.
Smith’s colleague at the Review-Journal, Laura Myers, noted the initial criticism of the ad’s fairness:
Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the ad seems unfair.
“It’s a reach and a diversion,” Herzik said. “Given the volume of incorporations in Nevada, you’re going to have some fly-by-night operations and some fraudulent activities. To pin that on the secretary of state is a reach.”
Herzik said Berkley is clearly worried her ethics problems will cost her the race unless she marks Heller, too.
“She’s trying to divert attention from herself,” he said. “And if this is the best she’s got, it’s not very good.”
The Las Vegas Sun was equally critical, labeling the ad “laughable” on the fairness meter.
Las Vegas television station Channel 8 News Now analyzed the claims of the Berkley ad in its Fact Check report and concluded they were “mostly ranging from misleading to false.”
The worst part of the ad, though, is the false accusation that Heller took campaign cash from a “co-conspirator.” The campaign contribution in question was made in June 2005 to Heller’s 2006 campaign for Congress by Rendal Williams, then CEO of U.S. Canadian Minerals in Las Vegas. The Dow Jones News Service reported in 2004 that U.S. Canadian, with Williams at the helm, acquired a 5 percent interest in CMKM Diamonds. But Williams was not among the individuals indicted by the government in the CMKM case.
Breitbart News called the Berkley for Senate campaign to inquire if it planned to continue running the poorly received “diamond mine scam” ad. Campaign Press Secretary Collin Milligan was unavailable to take our call and has not yet responded to our question.