Democrat Rep. Susie Lee (NV) has found herself at the center of an outside ethics complaint after she pushed for a change in the federal government’s pandemic loan requirements that benefitted her husband’s company.
Earlier this year, in April, Lee, along with the rest of Nevada’s congressional delegation, urged the Small Business Administration to alter requirements so that small gaming businesses could benefit from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was meant to prevent job loss during the coronavirus shutdown.
According to a report from The Daily Beast last week, Lee’s husband, Dan, received $5.6 million from two PPP loans for his company, Full House Resorts, two weeks after the change was made.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Lee denied having any involvement in whether the application was approved or denied, saying, “she had no influence” on the decision. However, it was later revealed by a spokesperson that she was made aware of the application and its approval.
Since the release of the report, Lee has declined multiple direct interviews. According to The Nevada Independent, Lee turned down an offer from them to do an interview and has also declined to appear on MSNBC.
A statement provided by a spokesperson to The Nevada Independent said Lee was working to address “two urgent and unprecedented public health and economic crises” while “40,000 Nevada businesses and their employees now have a lifeline in this storm” because of her recent work.
Lee’s spokesperson stated:
She took the right vote, advocated for the right policies for her district, and is demanding total transparency for all coronavirus programs. Republicans and Democrats joined Susie in this vote and this fight, yet now a bunch of partisan hacks and shadowy super PACs are attacking her for it. That’s deceptive and cynical, even by Washington’s low standards – but Susie Lee has never let dishonest, partisan attacks stop her from doing her job for Nevada.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC for GOP House leadership, aims to target Lee on the problems surrounding the loan situation and has reserved nearly $1 million to do so in advertising this fall. The super PAC considered her decision “improper” and an attempt at “rigging the system.”
On Friday, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust announced that it would file a formal complaint against Lee with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Throughout the complaint, Lee’s motive is questioned. The complaint also stated Lee’s involvement with Full House Resorts “creates doubt” about her impartiality and questions whether she acted “in the public’s best interest.”
“This is not a case where Lee simply voted on legislation, but is a case where she used her official position to advocate for an agency to change its regulations,” the complaint stated. “Therefore, the conflict rules must be strictly applied to prevent both an apparent or an actual conflict of interest.”
After receiving nearly 83 percent of the votes in her uncompetitive primary, Lee will face pro-Trump Republican Dan Rodimer for Nevada’s third district.
In a tweet last week, Rodimer called out Lee for her work that benefitted her husband’s business, saying “It’s time to fire Susie Lee!”
So, scandal-plagued @RepSusieLee goes to Washington not to serve our interests but her own? Taking advantage of a pandemic to enrich herself and her family, while tens of thousands of #NV03 families suffer? It’s time to fire Susie Lee! https://t.co/C2VD4Jh5v2
— Big Dan Rodimer for Congress NV-03 (@DanRodimer) June 12, 2020
“So, scandal-plagued @RepSusieLee goes to Washington not to serve our interests but her own,” Rodimer asked. “Taking advantage of a pandemic to enrich herself and her family, while tens of thousands of #NV03 families suffer? It’s time to fire Susie Lee!”