Ethics Panel to Probe Senate Hopeful; Nevada Democrat's Husband Has Ties to Aided Hospital

Article excerpt

Byline: Chuck Neubauer, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The House Ethics Committee has voted unanimously to empanel an investigative subcommittee to look into allegations that Rep. Shelley Berkley, Nevada Democrat, used her congressional position to help her husband's business interests.

The committee's announcement Monday of its June 29 vote would appear to be bad news for Mrs. Berkley, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by incumbent Sen. Dean Heller, Nevada Republican.

The four-member subcommittee is to determine whether Mrs. Berkley violated any laws, regulations, House rules or standards of conduct in the performance of her duties with respect to alleged communications and activities with or on behalf of entities in which her husband had a financial interest, the committe's top two members said in a statement.

The announcement was made by Rep. Jo Bonner, Alabama Republican, who chairs the ethics committee, and Rep. Linda T. Sanchez of California, the panel's ranking Democrat.

The ethics committee, with five Democrats and five Republicans, has been looking into the congresswoman's successful efforts to keep a kidney- transplant program at a Nevada hospital from being shut down by federal regulators, her campaign manager, Jessica Mackler, said earlier this year.

Mrs. Berkley's physician husband, Dr. Lawrence Lehrner, has business ties to the hospital, University Medical Center (UMC) in Las Vegas, and his medical practice is paid $738,000 a year to direct medical services for the hospital's kidney care department, according to a September 2011 article in the New York Times. …