Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., faces an ethics investigation in the midst of her bid for U.S. Senate this year, as she hopes to knock off incumbent Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.
The existence of an investigation was first revealed on Friday by the House Ethics Committee, which announced that it had received the case on Feb. 9 from the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent office that acts as a grand jury of sorts for the formal ethics panel.
Jessica Mackler, Berkley’s campaign manager, acknowledged in a statement that the panel is reviewing whether to open a full-scale investigation into the congresswoman’s efforts to help a kidney transplant program in Nevada that has ties to her husband.
“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,” Mackler said.
Last fall, the Nevada Republican Party filed an ethics complaint against Berkley after New York Times detailed five years of Berkley actions “in which she pushed legislation or twisted the arms of federal regulators to pursue an agenda that is aligned with the business interests of her husband.”
The existence of a probe in an election year is an unwelcome development for Democrats who hope that Nevada is one of a very few states where they could swipe a Senate seat back from Republicans.
In a joint statement, Ethics Committee Chairman Jo Bonner, R-Ala., and ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., said the panel would review the matter until July 9 before announcing if it would proceed.
At that time, the panel could decide to empanel a full investigative subcommittee, drop the case, or continue reviewing the allegations.
That timeline guarantees the ethics cloud will hover over Berkley for months. As always, the statement from the ethics committee’s top lawmakers noted the “does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.”