Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Rep. Berkley Launches Two Ads In Ongoing Fight With Sen. Heller On Medicare, Ethics Issues

By Sean Whaley | 6:12 pm July 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Shelley Berkley for Senate campaign today launched two new ads, one criticizing Sen. Dean Heller for voting to “essentially end Medicare” and a second telling viewers that her work to preserve a kidney transplant program was only aimed at helping Nevadans.

One ad focuses on Heller’s two votes in support of a plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that would have kept Medicare in place for people 55 or older but changed it for others by privatizing it and relying on government subsidies.

The other is a response to a decision by the House Ethics Committee announced last week to establish an investigative subcommittee to determine whether she inappropriately furthered the business interests of her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner by working to preserve a kidney transplant program at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas in 2008.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

In the ad, Berkley notes that the complaint about her activities was filed by the Nevada State Republican Party.

The ad says in part: “The Las Vegas Sun says Berkley’s advocacy wasn’t driven for personal gain. It was aimed at helping Nevadans.” It also mentions Heller’s two votes to “end Medicare as we know it.”

Heller launched an ad focusing on the ethics allegations against Berkley earlier this week.

The new Berkley ad campaign was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun.

Heller, a Republican appointed to the Senate in April 2011, and Berkley, a longtime Democratic Congresswoman representing Las Vegas, are locked in a tough battle for the Senate seat.

An announcement today from the Berkley campaign  commented on the new ads.

“While Dean Heller continues to look out for his special interest friends on Wall Street by voting to essentially end Medicare by turning it over to private insurance company bureaucrats, Shelley Berkley is a champion for Nevada seniors and patients  – working tirelessly to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, Berkley for Senate communications director. “This fall, Nevadans will understand the clear choice they have in this election between a fighter for the middle-class like Shelley Berkley and someone like Dean Heller, who would throw seniors under the bus to protect taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil companies and corporations that ship jobs overseas.”

In response to the ads, Chandler Smith, Heller for Senate spokeswoman, said: “How about the truth, Congresswoman? For the first time since 2009, a bipartisan committee of five Democrats and five Republicans unanimously decided Congresswoman Berkley’s actions required a formal investigation on the basis of a non-partisan report. In the very same ad she asks for the ‘truth,’ Shelley Berkley desperately tries to shift blame and repeats PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year over and over again. No matter how much she may want to distract from her own problems, Congresswoman Berkley’s ethics troubles do not give her a free pass to lie to Nevadans.”

In a media event today to highlight the fact that early voting for the November general election is 100 days away, U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said Berkley worked to help Nevadan’s in need of care. He mentioned his own experiences with his wife Landra who has undergone treatment for breast cancer.

“I think this is going to be fine for Shelley,” he said. “She’s a terrific candidate. She is a person who has always fought for Nevadans. And certainly she should fight for these people who are sick and in danger of dying.”

He also responded to a question about whether Berkley adequately disclosed that her husband was affiliated with the kidney transplant program. Questions about her work to preserve the program were first raised by the New York Times in a report published in September 2011.

Berkley and other members of Nevada’s Congressional delegation were able to preserve the program. But the New York Times said her efforts, “also benefited her husband, a physician whose nephrology practice directs medical services at the hospital’s kidney care department — an arrangement that expanded after her intervention and is now reflected in a $738,000-a-year contract with the hospital.”

Reid said anyone who lived in Southern Nevada knew that Berkley’s husband was a nephrologist.

“Well I think you will find she didn’t violate any rules whatsoever,” Reid said. “They can look into this more and I’m sure they will, but I don’t think there is a problem with that.”

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Audio:

Sen. Harry Reid says Berkley was right to fight for the kidney transplant program:

071212Reid1 :15 danger of dying.”

Reid says any ethics review will find no rules violations:

071212Reid2 :11 problem with that.”

 

House Ethics Committee Appoints Investigative Subcommittee To Review Rep. Berkley Ethics Questions

By Sean Whaley | 3:24 pm July 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The House Ethics Committee announced today that it has established an investigative subcommittee to review ethics questions raised about Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and whether she inappropriately furthered the business interests of her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner.

The committee voted unanimously on June 29 to establish the subcommittee.

“Pursuant to the committee’s action, the investigative subcommittee shall have jurisdiction to determine whether Representative Shelley Berkley violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation, or other applicable standard of conduct in the performance of her duties or the discharge of her responsibilities, with respect to alleged communications and activities with or on behalf of entities in which Representative Berkley’s husband had a financial interest,” committee Chairman Jo Bonner and Ranking Member Linda Sánchez said in a statement.

Rep. Shelley Berkley - D-Nev.

“The committee notes that the mere fact of establishing an investigative subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred,” the statement said.

The decision means the ethics questions surrounding Berkley will continue to ferment as her bid for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., heats up ahead of the November general election.

The race is considered to be critical for both Republicans and Democrats seeking control of the Senate in the 2012 election.

The House Ethics Committee announced that Rep. Michael Conaway will serve as the chairman of the investigative subcommittee, and Rep. Donna Edwards will serve as the Ranking Member. The other two members of the subcommittee are Reps. Robert Latta and Adam Schiff.

“No other public comment will be made on this matter except in accordance with committee rules,” the release said.

The ethics questions were first raised in a New York Times report published in September 2011. The Nevada State Republican Party then filed a complaint based on the reports, which involved her efforts to preserve a Nevada kidney transplant program at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

Berkley and other members of Nevada’s Congressional delegation were able to preserve the program. But the New York Times said her efforts, “also benefited her husband, a physician whose nephrology practice directs medical services at the hospital’s kidney care department — an arrangement that expanded after her intervention and is now reflected in a $738,000-a-year contract with the hospital.”

The report said that Lehrner helped build a political action committee that relied on Berkley to push its causes.

“She has co-sponsored at least five House bills that would expand federal reimbursements or other assistance for kidney care, written letters to regulators to block enforcing rules or ease the flow of money to kidney care centers and appeared regularly at fund-raising events sponsored by a professional organization her husband has helped run,” the newspaper reported.

Berkley has defended her efforts to preserve the transplant program and said her only concerns were for the patients waiting for transplants.

“The reality is I’ve never done anything, or never advocated for anything that wasn’t in the best interest of patients and patient care,” she said in a recent interview on the Face To Face television program.

Jessica Mackler, campaign manager for Berkley’s Senate campaign, released a statement on the committee’s action:  “We are pleased with the committee’s decision to conduct a full and fair investigation, which will ensure all the facts are reviewed. We are confident that ultimately it will be clear that Congresswoman Berkley’s one and only concern was for the health and well being of Nevada’s patients.

“That’s why she joined then Republican Congressman Dean Heller to prevent Nevada’s only kidney transplant program from being shut down by Washington bureaucrats,” the statement said. “With more than 200 Nevada patients desperately waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant, it would have been irresponsible of her not to work with the state’s entire Congressional delegation to protect the program.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Executive Director Rob Jesmer also commented on the House Ethics Committee decision: “It speaks volumes that even Shelley Berkley’s Democrat colleagues unanimously voted to move forward investigating Berkley’s use of her office to enrich her and her husband. Since Berkley entered the political arena we’ve seen a long pattern of ethical questions surrounding her conduct.”

Berkley Defends Actions In Preserving Kidney Program, Calls For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

By Sean Whaley | 8:06 pm June 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – U.S. Senate candidate and Rep. Shelley Berkley defended her efforts to preserve a kidney transplant program in Nevada in 2008, saying she never advocated for anything that was not in the best interests of patients and patient care.

Berkley, D-Nev., defended her role in preserving the program in response to questions in an interview on the Face To Face television program.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Berkley, who is facing U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in a battle for the seat that could tip the balance of power in the Senate, also expressed disappointment that the U.S. Supreme Court today did not completely reject Arizona’s immigration law.

In a lengthy discussion of her ethics review, Berkley defended her actions.

“The reality is I’ve never done anything, or never advocated for anything that wasn’t in the best interest of patients and patient care,” she said.

Berkley said she has sponsored or co-sponsored over 100 pieces of health-related legislation, from breast cancer to osteoporosis, because of her commitment to patient care in Nevada.

“Would I have really stood back and done nothing when I knew that there was a possibility that the only kidney transplant program in the entire state of Nevada was going to be closed,” she said. “At the time it was going to be closed there were 200 Nevada patients waiting for a kidney transplant. This is a life-saving operation.”

The House of Representative’s Ethics Committee is expected to announce its course of action in the Berkley ethics issue by July 9. A complaint filed by the Nevada Republican Party,, prompted by a New York Times report, involves allegations that Berkley used her position to help her husband’s medical practice.

On the U.S. Supreme Court decision today repealing three of four major sections of the Arizona immigration law, Berkley said she was disappointed that the law was not rejected in its entirety.

She echoed the comments of many other elected officials today by saying the ruling makes it clear Congress and the president must address comprehensive immigration reform. The alternative is 50 different laws on immigration in the 50 states, Berkley said.

Berkley also offered qualified support both for the federal stimulus package approved early on in the Obama presidency, as well as the federal health care law that will see a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday.

Berkley said she voted for the health care law because in balance, it was best for Nevadans, particularly the 600,000 residents who don’t have health insurance. The vote was not the result of pressure from then-house majority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi or anyone else, she said.

Berkley said she supported the stimulus bill even though it was not a “silver bullet” because it was a good first step and necessary to move the economy forward.

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Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says her votes on a kidney transplant program were to ensure patient care:

062512Berkley1 :08 and patient care.”

Berkley says she had to act to save the program:

062512Berkley2 :20 life-saving operation.”

 

Battle-worn Byron Georgiou is Out of U.S. Senate Race

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:03 am August 10th, 2011

Las Vegas millionaire and Shelley Berkley-challenger Byron Georgiou this morning announced that he is dropping out of the Democratic race for the U.S. Senate:

After thoughtful consideration, I have decided to terminate my campaign for the Democratic Party’s 2012 nomination for the United States Senate.

I continue to believe that my background and experience well qualify me to serve in the Senate. However, at this time, I have concluded that I can more effectively contribute to resolution of the serious economic issues facing our state and nation through my work in the private sector, in the areas of clean energy, health care information technology, and broadband development.

I thank my many supporters, my staff, my friends and my family for their confidence in my candidacy.

With respect,

Byron

The businessman — a millionaire who made a name for himself as one of the attorneys who recovered $7.5 billion for investors in Enron Corporation – has been under fire for months by Democratic Party operatives who first tried to persuade and then later attempted to force him out of the race against Rep. Berkley.

Among other things, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid called the candidate’s credentials and ethics into question even though Reid was largely responsible for appointing Georgiou to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a panel tasked with examining the causes of the recession. Reid even went so far as to say he was “misled” about Georgiou’s resume and regretted appointing Georgiou to the commission.

But Georgiou was determined and said he refused to drop out, even seeming energized by the attacks. He told the Las Vegas Sun he believed the criticisms were politically motivated and “part of the continuing efforts of the Shelley Berkley campaign to disparage my candidacy.”

A spokesman for Reid stood behind the criticism and told the Sun that while Georgiou was on the FCIC, he was making public and private statements that were in violation of the ethics code for the commission.

Although many political analysts agreed the attacks on Georgiou looked like a coordinated effort to force him out of the senate race, Reid was not the first elected official to question whether all Georgiou’s work for the FCIC was ethical. California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform committee has this year been investigating whether Georgiou and FCIC lead investigator Chris Seefer may have broken the commission’s ethical rules regarding conflicts of interest and confidentiality.

If unchallenged by any other candidate, Berkley will face appointed U.S. Sen. Dean Heller in the 2012 race as he seeks to hold the seat for the Republicans.

Update (compliments of Steve Sebelius at SlashPolitics who provided both of the below comments):

Rep. Shelley Berkley said this today in response to Georgiou’s announcement.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for Byron Georgiou. He has an impressive record as a businessman and public servant and I know that he will continue to contribute to the betterment of our state and country in the years to come.

And Sen. Harry Reid said this:

While Byron and I have had our differences in the past, I’m heartened by his decision today.  His is an important voice and perspective on the causes of the financial crisis.

Byron and his fellow Financial Crisis Inquiry Commissioners performed a significant public service by investigating and identifying for the President, the Congress and the American people the causes of the economic crisis that continues to grip our nation.  Their report remains the most comprehensive accounting of the causes of the crisis and what we should do to avoid a repetition.  Byron’s decision allows him to focus even more of his energy, time and considerable talents on what he is obviously very passionate about — ensuring that what happened never happens again.

Byron has had a diverse and distinguished career in business, law and public service.  I have the highest regard for his professional expertise, and am confident that Byron will continue to contribute to Nevada and America in the years to come.

Quite the 180. As Sebelius quipped in his blog header, “Can you feel the love tonight?”

Update:

Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange issued the following statement regarding Byron Georgiou’s decision to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race:

We thank Byron Georgiou for his years of public service and wish him well in his future endeavors. This election will be a clear choice between Shelley Berkley’s commitment to getting Nevadans back to work and Dean Heller’s job-killing TEA Party agenda that would gut Social Security and end Medicare by putting the health of Nevada seniors into the hands of profit-first private insurance companies. With Nevada suffering from the worst unemployment in the Nation, we need Shelley Berkley in the Senate to fight to create jobs, not a politician like Dean Heller who has consistently thrown Nevada’s seniors and middle class under the bus to protect tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas.


 

John Ensign, Episode…Too Many

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:35 am April 22nd, 2011
With yesterday’s preemptive, hastily announced resignation, Senator John Ensign’s graceless fall from grace continued. Despite stating he is leaving office in order to spare his family and constituents any further stress, the timing — shortly after an Senate Ethics Committee quietly voted to continue their 22-month investigation, possibly via public hearings — made the cause of Ensign’s departure evident. The specter of the falling axe sent the senator scurrying for the exit when nothing else would.
 
Ensign thought — or at least fervently hoped — his decision not to seek a third term was the end of an ugly political affair birthed months after an almost inconceivable conception: a shocking and sordid personal affair with the wife of a dear friend and top aide, fertilized and fed by Ensign’s ego. The junior senator’s parents were not only complicit but participatory in the attempted cover up, issuing a series of “gift” checks to the Hamptons totaling $96,000. The Federal Elections Commission saw fit to take the Ensigns’ expanatory affidavit at face value and dismiss a Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) complaint regarding the payments.
  
But the saga may not be over, even yet. The sequel and (we can only hope) final episode is pending and tied to the fate Doug Hampton, former Ensign staffer and cuckhold, who now stands indicted on seven counts of illegal lobbying. Should Hampton produce damning evidence of Ensign ethics violations in his own legal defense, as he has hinted he may, the Department of Justice may take a second look at the senator.
 
In addition, even after Ensign vacates his seat on May 3, the Senate Ethics Committee may release some or all of the evidence it has gathered. This may also motivate the Justice Department to get off its legal duff and move forward with an investigation and possible indictment. Indeed, the committee’s statement yesterday hinted it was in possession of serious findings when it said the resignation of Nevada’s junior senator was “the appropriate decision”.
 
Many Nevadans disagree, believing Ensign’s so-called appropriate choice came far too long after his initial inappropriate act and subsequent machinations to be considered befitting behavior for a United States Senator. The time for doing the right and proper thing is long past, they say. Their disgraced native son–once on the probable short list for the vice presidency on a near-future national ticket–has done too little, too late.
 
It is said it is never too late for redemption, but Ensign’s resignation will be an unprecedented, indelible black mark on Nevada’s already tarnished political history books. It is a legacy the already embattled Battle Born State could do without.

DOJ Indicts Former Ensign Staffer Doug Hampton on Seven Counts

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:42 pm March 24th, 2011

Deep sighs of relief were heard all over Nevada when Senator John Ensign announced his decision not to run for reelection. Today the indictment of former Ensign staffer Doug Hampton will once again put many of the Silver State’s political players* on edge.

As reported by the AP and others, Hampton has been charged with illegally lobbying the senator’s staff on behalf of two companies for which he was working as a consultant.

Federal law prohibits former Senate aides from lobbying the Senate for one year after termination of employment.

Roll Call reports that Hampton is scheduled to be arraigned March 31 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Doug Hampton claimed in 2009 (first in a riveting interview on Ralston’s Face to Face and then on national television) that Ensign helped him find lobbying clients after he left the Senator’s office. Ensign has denied doing so.

When Hampton went public and effectively incriminated himself, he hinted he was in possession of more (read: damaging to Ensign) information than he was sharing. Presumably, that information will now be shared with the Department of Justice (DOJ) as Hampton seeks to defend himself.

If found guilty, Hampton could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.

The Department of Justice last year served subpoenas on numerous Las Vegas businesses, seeking documentation about Ensign, Doug Hampton, and various staffers and political operatives.

That documentation showed companies being contacted by Ensign’s office about possible work opportunities for Hampton, as well as emails from Hampton explaining how he could help them.

Ensign escaped sanction by the FEC and prosecution by the DOJ, but he is still the subject of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation that started in the fall of 2009.

*Update: Ralston mentions, via Tweet, that key testimony could come from John Lopez, former Ensign chief of staff who is now with R&R Partners, and Mike Slanker, an ex-Ensign operative now heading up Dean Heller’s senate campaign.

 

FEC Dismisses CREW Complaint Against Ensign

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:16 pm November 19th, 2010

Three days after Senator John Ensign announced that he plans to run for re-election in 2012 despite ongoing ethics investigations into his conduct, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has dismissed a watchdog group’s complaint against Ensign re: a $96,000 payment his parents made to the family of his former mistress, Cynthia Hampton.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) had contended in its compliant that the transfer of money amounted to an illegal political donation. The group is not happy that the FEC (according to the statement on the CREW website) “ignored evidence that the Hamptons themselves considered the payment to be severance, including Mr. Hampton’s contemporaneous notes from conversations he had in which he had referred to the payments as severance.”

The FEC based its decision on the fact that Sen. Ensign’s parents submitted affidavits stating they had intended the money as a gift, not as a severance payment.

Despite escaping sanction by the FEC, Ensign still needs to survive the investigations by the Senate ethics committee and Justice Department and overcome a shortage of campaign cash if he hopes to hold onto this seat for a third term.

IF Ensign runs — it is possible an indictment may yet force a resignation or change of heart — he will almost certainly find himself challenged in the GOP primary, possibly (among others) by Rep. Dean Heller who has not ruled out the option. Sharron Angle might also take a stab at it, having recently said she “can’t stop” believin’ running for office.

(Sidebar: If Angle does challenge Ensign, will he agree to play himself when it comes time for candidate debate preparation? I ask because earlier this week Jon Ralston found out that Ensign played the part of Harry Reid in order to help Angle prepare for her debate with the majority leader.)

(Sidebar 2: Steve Sebelius wondered whether Ensign’s active help for Angle effectively ended the long-standing non-aggression pact between Ensign and Reid. Good question.)

Ensign has repeatedly insisted that he broke no law or Senate rules, a contention in question ever since the New York Times obtained emails showing that Ensign appeared to help get Doug Hampton a job as a lobbyist after his affair with Cindy Hampton was discovered.

Ensign’s most recent federal campaign report showed he had spent over half million dollars on his legal defense and had about $280,000 cash on hand.

State GOP Complaint Against Treasurer Marshall Dismissed By Ethics Panel

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:39 am June 16th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A two-member panel of the state Ethics Commission has decided there is insufficient cause to move forward with a complaint that state Treasurer Kate Marshall used her office to benefit her re-election bid.

The Nevada State Republican Party filed the complaint in April, saying Marshall had inappropriately included her official office telephone number as a point of contact for her campaign. Marshall, a Democrat, is running for a second term.

But Caren Jenkins, executive director of the commission, said a review of the complaint Thursday by two commission members, one Republican and one Democrat, found no cause to move it forward for a full hearing.

The panel determined that Marshall’s state office phone number was included on a contact list for candidates prepared by the secretary of state’s office, not by Marshall herself, she said.

A similar complaint filed against Secretary of State Ross Miller was also rejected by an Ethics Commission panel last month.

Steve Martin, a Las Vegas Republican and former state controller running against Marshall, said he was disappointed the complaint was dismissed out of hand without a hearing. But the decision was not a surprise since a previous panel reached the same decision in Miller’s case, he said.

Marshall was also criticized by the Martin campaign for lending her voice to radio ads promoting a children’s contest involving a college savings program managed by her office, but the issue was not part of the ethics complaint.

Gary Gray, campaign consultant to Marshall said the decision was a vindication for his client and her record of accomplishment, success, and integrity. He criticized Martin, who lost his race for controller in 2006, for making a “bogus” ethics complaint.

Martin did not file the complaint, however. Acting state party Chairwoman Sherry Dilley filed the complaints against Marshall and Miller.

The Goose and the Gander, Part… I’ve Lost Track

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:33 pm April 28th, 2010

Anjeanette Damon of INP at the RGJ found that Governor Gibbons, too, listed his main (state) office phone number on his declaration of candidacy.

Earlier this month, the NV GOP filed ethics complaints against (Democrats) Sec of State Ross Miller and Treasurer Kate Marshall, who had provided their office phone numbers on their candidate declarations.

The two complaints were based on the claim that it’s against the law to use state resources for campaign activities.

Which it is.

AD’s closer:  “No ethics complaint has been filed by the governor’s party against him.”

This is the problem with these things, peeps.  You really shouldn’t go around filing complaints and sending out strongly worded press releases against members of the other party if you are not willing to do the same when someone on your own team screws up.

Or, I guess you can, but then you just look silly.

And, more importantly, the voters get disgusted with “politics as usual.”

What’s a brand new state party executive director to do?

GOP Consultant Calls State Treasurer Hypocrite for Radio Ads

By Sean Whaley | 9:58 am April 27th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A spokesman for Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall is rejecting any suggestion that her participation in radio ads to promote a children’s contest involving a college savings program is aimed at helping her re-election campaign.

But a campaign consultant for her GOP opponent called Marshall a hypocrite for engaging in the same practice she criticized her predecessor for doing, and for “pushing the envelope” by running ads after the close of filing for office.

The radio ads encourage children from kindergarten to fifth grade to participate in the contest, the theme of which is: “I want to go to college so I can become a______.” Six students will receive a prize of a $529 gift to be used to open a college savings plan account or to enhance an existing account.

Steve George, public information officer for Marshall, said the $12,000 radio campaign was approved by the College Savings Plans Board.

“It takes about two seconds for her to say, ‘This is state Treasurer Kate Marshall’ out of a 30-second or 60-second commercial,” he said.

The ads are aimed at children who can’t vote, George said.

The college savings programs are managed by the treasurer’s office but do not involve any state funds, he said. Parents who open accounts pay fees to fund the operating costs of the program.

Ryan Erwin, a campaign consultant for Steve Martin, a former state controller who is running against Marshall as a Republican, said Marshall, “is rapidly becoming a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do case.”

“She may be the biggest hypocrite in Nevada politics today, and that is a high bar to reach,” he said.

Erwin said Marshall was a vocal critic when former treasurer, now GOP Lt. Gov Brian Krolicki, appeared in college savings ads. While not suggesting Marshall has violated any laws, it is a violation of common sense, he said.

Using a state managed program to get her name out in an election year, even in a modest radio ad campaign, is still hypocritical, Erwin said.

Krolicki faced more than just criticism over the ads he appeared in. The commercials became part of an investigation into Krolicki’s handling of the college savings program by Democrat Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto after concerns were raised by Marshall. The ads stopped in 2006 before Krolicki filed for lieutenant governor.

Krolicki was indicted in December 2008 on charges of misallocating funds for the program, but earlier this year a Clark County district judge dismissed the case and Masto declined to pursue the matter further. Krolicki said the prosecution was political and that he had done nothing wrong.

The use of the airwaves by state elected officials to promote various programs has also been raised by the Nevada Republican Party in an ethics complaint against Secretary of State Ross Miller, who appeared in a TV ad promoting the U.S. Census. The ad featured fighters with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Miller is also running for re-election.

Miller told the Las Vegas Sun the allegation in the complaint was “silly.”

Ciara Turns, communications director for the state GOP, said the Marshall radio spot issue has not yet been reviewed, but added it could become part of an ethics complaint in the future.

Both Marshall and Miller also face GOP complaints that they violated campaign laws by listing their state offices as contact points for their campaigns. Marshall said the criticism is baseless because the Secretary of State’s office inadvertently posted the incorrect phone number for her campaign contact. Miller called the complaint a frivolous campaign ploy.

The Sequel: Another State-paid Ad Starring Another State Official Running for Office (This Time on Radio)

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:10 am April 22nd, 2010

A little bird just told me that State Treasurer Kate Marshall was all over the radio Sunday with an ad for a college savings contest for elementary school kids.  I have obtained the audio:

01 KATE MARSHALL- NevadaTreasurerOffice-1

Ran on stations below on Sunday April 18, 2010:

KOAS-FM

KLUC-FM

KVGS-FM

KXPT-FM

KBAD-AM

KCYE-AM

KKLZ-FM

KMXB-FM

KOMP-FM

KPLV-FM

Start the timer until an ethics complaint like the one against Ross Miller for his UFC census TV ads is filed.  Which will make two ethics complaints each for Miller and Marshall (see here for more on that) so far this campaign season.

More Goose/Gander Talk re: Our Public Officials

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:59 am April 22nd, 2010

I recently wrote a What’s-Good-for-the-Goose post re: Sec of State Ross Miller’s decision to let Dem Assemblywoman Kathy McClain off the hook for misuse of campaign funds in return for a public slap on the wrist and generous donation to a local charity.

Steve Sebelius of LV CityLife now also invokes Ma and Pa geeses — and in the process pens a pretty good one re: another ethics matter involving Ross Miller.  Steve’s take, followed by my agreement, plus an interim suggestion:

A word about celebrity pols

The state Republican Party has filed an ethics complaint against Secretary of State Ross Miller, who appears in a television ad urging Nevada residents to participate in the 2010 census. It won’t likely go anywhere; Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki’s appearance in ads for the state’s college savings program when Krolicki served as treasurer was reviewed and approved by the Ethics Commission.

But Ryan Erwin, a campaign consultant to Krolicki, says there’s a double-standard, inasmuch as Democrat Miller has received much less criticism for his star-turn in the census ad than Republican Krolicki got for his appearances in the college savings ads. What’s good for the Republican goose should be good for the Democratic gander, he says.

And he’s right.

As the No. 1 critic of Krolicki’s appearance in the college-savings ads, I should note there are some facts that differ between the two situations. Krolicki took personal charge of advertising dollars, outside the state’s regular accounting system, and overspent the budget in the process, an audit later showed. (He was indicted for mishandling those funds, but the case was dismissed late last year.)

But the basic nature of what Krolicki did is exactly the same in Miller’s case: A state official appearing in state-paid TV ads, which tends to constitute free publicity for a person who needs publicity in order to get re-elected someday. And, in both cases, it’s unseemly.

There’s no doubt that incumbency has its perks. Krolicki can hold a news conference and get a gaggle of reporters pretty much any time he wants; his opponents, not so much. Miller can schedule a briefing on election procedures, and he’ll get himself on TV and in the newspapers. His challengers have no such ability. That’s just the way it is.

But these ads are something else entirely. They’re only tangentially related to holding office, and there is absolutely no need whatsoever for an elected official to appear therein, especially when those officials are running for re-election.

In Las Vegas and Clark County governments, there’s a policy that says an elected official cannot appear on city- or county-run television channels or in government-published newsletters while they are running for office (defined as that period of time from when a person files for re-election until Election Day). The policy was enacted after criticism — some from me — that such appearances were essentially a taxpayer-financed promotion of a political candidacy.

Perhaps a similar policy could be enacted at the state level.

Such a policy would not only reduce the disadvantage for challengers, but would also protect elected officials from ethics complaints and the appearance they are using their office (and state funds) in order to buy free publicity that cannot but help their re-election. This would, of course, apply to all elected officials, regardless of party. Because what’s wrong for a Republican is also wrong for a Democrat.

Yep.  What he said.

And furthermore, all elected officials who are also candidates ought to voluntarily cease the practice of starring in state-funded TV ads until such time as new policy can be crafted and passed.

Any elected officials willing to be first out with That pledge to the taxpayers?

State GOP Files Those Ethics Complaints Against Secretary of State, Treasurer

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:03 pm April 16th, 2010

Just they said they would.  Ciara Turns, Communications Director for the Nevada Republican Party, says they expect a decision within a week or so.

Here’s the Miller complaint:  Miller Ethics Complaint

And the Marshall complaint:  Marshall Ethics Complaint

(FYI for viewing:  Both are Word docs, same format in which they were sent to me.)

Rushed, Dear Readers, so will say a thing or three about his later.

Republican Party to File Ethics Complaints Against Secretary of State Ross Miller and State Treasurer Kate Marshall

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:41 am April 13th, 2010

The state Republican party has confirmed it will be filing an ethics complaint against Secretary of State Ross Miller and state Treasurer Kate Marshall alleging the improper use of publicly funded web pages, phone lines and state employees for their respective reelection campaigns.

“The Nevada Republican party is moving forward with an ethics complaint,” confirmed Ciara Turns, Communications Director for the state party.  “We look forward to the ethics commission completing an investigation into these improper actions.”

Turns said the evidence collected includes screen shots of web pages that have since been revised and records of phone conversations with public employees who fielded campaign-related questions and directed callers to where they could make campaign donations for both Miller and Marshall.

Turns said she anticipates the ethics complaint will be filed tomorrow.

In a press release issued today and titled “Marshall works for Nevadans as opponent throws stink bombs,” state Treasurer Kate Marshall called the ethics allegations a “cheap and baseless attack.”

Marshall defended her record and said that while her opponent is “digging through my disclosure forms and reading about my accomplishments on my website,” she is working hard for the state.  The rest of Marshall’s release summarized her past public service as an employee of the U.S. Department of Justice Anti-Trust Division and her service as Nevada Senior Deputy Attorney General as well as past law experience.

In a response to the strongly worded press release, Turns said Marshall is “attempting to change the subject and distract from her blatant disregard of the law.”

“Treasurer Marshall does not one time address the claims the Nevada Republican Party is making about her violation of Nevada ethics laws, which makes clear she is trying to avoid providing Nevadans with the answers they deserve,” said Turns.  “The people of Nevada expect their elected officials to follow the law and ensure the public trust.”

“Treasurer Marshall owes Nevadans an explanation for why she has failed them in this regard,” said Turns, “and the statement she provided in response to our allegations doesn’t come close to doing that.”

News of possible ethics violations surfaced yesterday when Nevada Republican Party Acting Chair Sherry Dilley issued a statement saying both Miller and Marshall had violated Nevada ethics laws according to Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 281A which dictates that a public officer or employee is “prohibited from requesting or otherwise causing governmental entity to incur expense or make expenditure to support or oppose ballot question or candidate in certain circumstances.”

Dilley’s statement said both Miller and Marshall had listed their government phone numbers as the contact numbers for their respective re-election campaigns. The statement also said Miller had provided his government phone number and email address as contact information for his campaign’s financial disclosure reports.

“Secretary of State Miller and Treasurer Marshall are in clear violation of Nevada law and should be held responsible for their flagrant disregard for the ethical obligations they owe the people of Nevada,” Dilley said.

Steve Martin, former state controller and current Republican candidate for state treasurer, also criticized Miller and Marshall for their actions.

“It is outrageous that any elected official would use an elected office for campaign purposes, given the financial crisis we face as a state,” Martin said.

In 2004, then-state controller Kathy Augustine was fined $15,000 and was impeached by the Nevada Assembly for improper use of state resources.

More Calls for Ensign’s Resignation Trickle In

By Sean Whaley | 8:08 am April 11th, 2010

(Updated at 10:02 a.m. and again at 10:41 a.m. on April 11, 2010)

CARSON CITY – Despite being described as a “wounded” senator who has not been effective in representing Nevada in Washington, DC, state Republican officials and candidates surveyed by the Nevada News Bureau for the most part are still not calling on U.S. Senator John Ensign, R-Nev., to step down.

Ensign, under the cloud of an ethics investigation over whether he provided inappropriate and possibly illegal help to former administrative assistant Doug Hampton, was called upon to resign earlier this week by two former Clark County GOP officials. Ensign last year acknowledged having an affair with Hampton’s wife.

Among the few Republicans willing to call for Ensign’s resignation was Michael Roberson, candidate for Senate District 5.

“As a taxpayer and constituent, I have heard and read enough to join other Nevadans in calling for Senator Ensign to resign,” said Roberson. “His behavior shows a callous disregard for moral decency, the dignity of his office and for those of us who elected him.”

“I realize that some suggest that we should wait for the Senate Ethics Committee and U.S. Department of Justice investigations to conclude before making such a determination. However, through his own admitted actions, I do not believe Senator Ensign is worthy of the job he currently holds, and that he is in fact letting Nevadans down by continuing to fight for his job,” he said.

Roberson said that whether Senator Ensign is indicted or cleared is a legal matter and not his top concern.

“As an attorney and a member of the Nevada Bar, I certainly respect our legal system, and I believe Senator Ensign does deserve a full, fair and complete investigation,” he said. “However, the behavior he has shown and the decisions he has made make him an unsuitable representative for our state.”

“Our congressional delegation is weakened by this scandal – and therefore, so is our representation in Congress. Nevada taxpayers  deserve better. It is time for Senator Ensign to resign and allow a more suitable and effective Senator to replace him,” he said.

Ira Hansen, a Sparks resident running for Assembly District 32, also said he thinks Ensign should step down.

“I’ve been a big Ensign supporter from Day One,” he said. “I still think very highly of the guy. But I am extremely disappointed in his unfortunate personal behavior.”

“While it is true that Ensign is innocent until proven guilty,” Hansen said, “his violation of his family values positions by having an extramarital affair does justify asking him to step down.”

“Whether his resignation would be in the best interests of the state is a much bigger question,” he said. “It’s a tough call.”

Elizabeth Halseth, candidate for Senate District 9, also agrees it is time for Ensign to go.

“If you cannot lead effectively, there is limit to your success and the success of those you serve,” said Halseth.  “While I applaud Senator Ensign for the great things he has done for our state, I believe he has become ineffective and will ultimately harm our ability to grow.”

Halseth said she believes we need strong elected officials officials who can help Nevada get back on track.

“The people are our strength, and the people have lost faith in Senator Ensign’s ability to lead effectively,” said Halseth.  “For that reason, I believe it’s in the best interest of the people, the party and the state of Nevada that Senator Ensign resigns immediately.”

Calinit Atia, candidate for state Assembly District 22, said she believes elected officials must always put their constituents first and that it may be time for Ensign to consider stepping aside.

“I don’t know if what Dean Heller said is true, but if John Ensign has lost his effectiveness, then yes, I would say he should put the state’s interests before his own and step down,” said Atia.

“These are dark days for John Ensign and his family and the choices he needs to make are not easy, but they are choices that must be made,” she said.  “My heart goes out to his family.”

George Harris, a former chairman and former treasurer of the Clark County Republican party, re-iterated past statements calling for Ensign’s resignation.

“If Ensign continues to be a wasp in the GOP ointment, he will ultimately damage the prospects of those who come out of the primary election,” Harris said.  “The opposition will absolutely use this ethics scandal against all Republicans in the general election.”

“Ensign could save everyone a lot of embarrassment,” Harris said.  “The problem is, he has become the story.  The media and the Democrats are basically turning him into a clown, the longer this drags on and the more facts come to light.”

“From a strategic perspective, as the former head of the Republican Senatorial Committee, Ensign knows that if this was anyone else, he would be the first in line to tell them to resign,” said Harris. “We cannot have this kind of thing hanging over the party. Ensign should discontinue his selfish behavior and resign now.”

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., agreed in television interviews this week that Ensign is a “wounded” junior senator and that Nevada needs a stronger voice in Washington. But he stopped short of calling for Ensign to resign.

In a written statement to the Las Vegas Review Journal, U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian said, “After consideration of the news reports and Congressman Heller’s recent statements — which I take very seriously — I think the issue is that the people of Nevada need to know that Senator Ensign can represent them effectively.”

“I must respectfully say that as the potential Republican nominee, I do not expect to be campaigning with Senator Ensign this fall,” said Tarkanian.

Interviews with a number of other Nevada Republicans do reveal a general reluctance to call for Ensign’s resignation.  The general consensus is that Ensign has not yet been found guilty of any wrongdoing and that he will make the right decision for Nevada when the time comes.

Still, there is acknowledgment that Ensign’s troubles are creating problems for the Republican Party in Nevada because he can’t raise money for candidates or campaign on their behalf.

U.S. Senate John Chachas said, “Senator Ensign has suffered a great deal of personal and professional grief for some self-acknowledged lapses in judgment and behavior. Nevadans should not make sport of tap-dancing on someone’s misery.

“That said, elected officials need to be held to a higher standard. They have to be,” he added.  “I have served on boards of directors in business, and if a senior director had such issues, I would give him or her a nudge and suggest that moving on would be good for the company and shareholders.”

“But this is politics. The only ‘board’ is the electorate every six years. So in the interim, the only thing that matters is the good judgment of the individual,” said Chachas.  “I am confident Sen. Ensign will exercise good judgment for Nevada. His career and reputation are not the issue. The issue is Nevada, and I am confident he will do the right thing in that regard.”

Mike Montandon, gubernatorial candidate and the former mayor of North Las Vegas, said Ensign appears to be a liability for Republican candidates because they are clearly not seeking his endorsement.

But the issue of his resignation is a decision only Ensign can make, he said.

“I’m not going to call for anyone’s resignation,” Montandon said. “If someone in public office can’t make that decision for himself, then something is wrong.”

Montandon also noted that an Ensign resignation, should it occur, raises myriad political issues that could ripple across the state. Whether it would be better before or after the primary and how it might affect the re-election chances of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are just two of those issues, he said.

State Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said Ensign’s troubles are damaging to the GOP brand, but he added that the inquiries into his actions are still in progress.

“In America we have a system where you are innocent until proven guilty,” he said. “So in the absence of any clear criminal wrongdoing, it would presumptuous of me to be the judge, jury and executioner.”

Democrats are using Ensign’s troubles to their advantage, but ethics issues aren’t unknown to Democrats, Goedhart said. He pointed to New York Rep. Charles Rangel, who is facing an ethics probe of his own.

“Is it reducing Ensign’s effectiveness? Yes,” he said. “Am I calling on him to step down? No. Not unless he has been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing.”

Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, a candidate for state Senate, said he believes Ensign will do what is best for the state.

“He has not been charged or convicted, so it is very premature for people to be calling his resignation,” he said.

Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, who is also running for an open state senate seat, said he has stayed out of the controversy but said a resignation could, “throw a monkey wrench into the elections.”

A resignation now would be poor timing, he said.

“We should wait and see what the investigations turn up,” Gustavson said. “Let it take its course. Until then I’m not suggesting we do anything different.”

U.S. Senate candidate Garn Mabey, a former member of the state Assembly, said he would agree with the description of Ensign as a “wounded” senator. But Mabey said he considers Ensign a friend who helped him win his first race for elective office.

“I’m not going to throw him under the bus,” he said.

Mabey said he does not believe Ensign’s troubles will affect other Nevada Republican candidates.

“I think he is a good man,” Mabey said. “It is a decision he has to make.”

U.S. Senate candidate and Assemblyman Chad Christensen said: “This has been an unfortunate situation all the way around. There are two basic issues here. If John Ensign did anything illegal he should resign, if not then voters should decide in 2012 if he should stay.”

Rob Lauer, a candidate for secretary of state, said he believes in loyalty and called Ensign “a great Republican.” It is up to Ensign to decide whether he can continue to be effective in Congress, he said.

“I like him personally,” Lauer said. “He has done a lot of good things for the state. But on a political level as a senator he has an obligation to the people of the state. If he can’t get bills through, if he is not effective for the state, he needs to do what is best for the state.”

Ensign’s troubles are an issue for Nevada Republicans because without them, he could raise money and help GOP candidates, Lauer said. Until the issues facing him are resolved, he can’t be an effective leader for Nevada Republicans, he said.

Craig Lake, candidate for Congressional District 1, declined to comment on the matter. Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge running for governor, also had no comment.

Patrick McNaught, candidate for Senate District 12, and Michelle Fiore, candidate for CD-1, could not be reached for comment. U.S. Senate candidates Sharron Angle also could not be reached.