WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Ethics Committee confirmed Friday that it’s looking into allegations made against Democratic U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley of Las Vegas that revolve around whether she used her office to help her husband’s medical practice.
Ethics committee Chairman Jo Bonner, a Republican from Alabama, said Friday that the committee’s leaders had “decided to extend the matter regarding” Berkley. It will determine whether to conduct a full investigation on or before July 9.
The announcement was the first official indication that the committee is reviewing allegations made by the Nevada GOP that Berkley tried to influence federal reimbursement rates for dialysis providers and lobbied to save a kidney transplant program in Las Vegas to help her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, who administers kidney care at University Medical Center in Las Vegas.
The committee’s review comes as Berkley is running for the U.S. Senate against Republican Dean Heller in a race that is expected to be one of the closest in the country. Republicans used the news Friday to question her integrity.
“The people of Nevada deserve someone in the United States Senate who they can trust to work on their behalf and not someone like Shelley Berkley who puts her own financial and political interests first,” said Brian Walsh, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The Berkley campaign said she was merely doing what other members of the congressional delegation were doing when she called on federal officials to reverse a decision to close the kidney transplant program at University Medical Center.
“As the committee reviews this complaint, they will determine that Congresswoman Shelley Berkley’s only concern is for the well-being of Nevada’s patients,” said Berkley’s campaign manager, Jessica Mackler.
Mackler said that Republican Reps. Jon Porter and Heller also joined her in that effort. Heller has since gone on to the Senate, with his appointment following the resignation of Sen. John Ensign.
Associated Press writer Cristina Silva in Las Vegas contributed to this report.