Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Senate’

Jobs, Support Of Middle Class Focus Of Spirited Senate Debate Between Heller, Berkley

By Sean Whaley | 2:10 pm September 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – It took all of about ten minutes for Sen. Dean Heller and Rep Shelley Berkley to mix it up in their first debate in the U.S. Senate race Thursday, criticizing each other on campaign issues ranging from ethics to Medicare to big oil subsidies.

The hour-long debate on KNPB-TV in Reno was the first chance for many voters to see the two candidates spar on the issues, most of which have already been the focus of campaign attacks in the race to date.

Heller, the Republican appointed to the seat last year, and Berkley, a seven-term Democrat Congresswoman representing the 1st District, will debate twice more before election day on Nov. 6.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Heller criticized Berkley for supporting big government bailouts and sequestration, a process which could see massive cuts in military and domestic spending, called the “fiscal cliff,” beginning in January if Congress cannot reach agreement on how to reduce spending. He also commented on the ethics issues that are dogging her through the campaign.

Berkley went after Heller for supporting tax breaks for big oil and for supporting a plan by Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan to change the Medicare program for younger Americans when they retire in the years to come.

Heller’s alleged ‘hobos’ remark starts the back-and-forth

One of the first questions to provoke Heller was in reference to his alleged comment in Elko in February of 2010 when unemployment benefits were being extended. He supposedly asked if by continuing the program that “the government is now creating hobos.”

“This is the most difficult part of an election; that is proving something that you didn’t do or say,” Heller said in response to the question. “And in this case this is something that I did not do and something that I did not say. Let’s be very specific. I did not say that.”

Berkley used the opportunity to try to align Heller with Mitt Romney’s controversial comments about 47 percent of Americans being dependent on the federal government.

Heller has disavowed Romney’s comments.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Did Heller say that the government is creating hobos?

Yes, according to the Elko Daily Free Press, which reported his comments as: “Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs.

“He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce. ‘I believe there should be a federal safety net,’ Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. ‘Is the government now creating hobos?’ ”

But the Heller campaign, in a statement released during the debate, said: “Dean Heller never called unemployed individuals hobos. Then-Congressman Heller was referring to a presentation made by Lawrence B. Lindsey, former Director of the National Economic Council at the White House, before the Republican Members of the House Ways and Means Committee.”

The statement cited a number of times Heller voted to extend unemployment insurance during his career in Congress.

Debate moves to who is a bigger supporter of the middle class

Heller used the opportunity to question Berkley’s claims that she supports the middle class.

“She’s bailed out Detroit, she’s bailed out Wall Street, you name it she’s bailed out everybody time and time again,” he said. “And the question is when are you going to bail out the middle class. What are you going to do for the middle class. You continue to support big bailouts.”

Berkley cited five votes Heller has made “to protect tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas.”

The Heller campaign pointed to Berkley’s vote in July to extend tax breaks for all but those earning over $250,000 a year. Eliminating those tax breaks “could cost Nevada 6,000 jobs and more than 900,000 nationwide,” the statement said.

Berkley voted for an energy tax, opposed the Keystone Pipeline which will mean the oil gets shipped to China, and supported the Affordable Care Act, Heller said.

Berkley has supported energy tax breaks in Congress, but those breaks have focused on alternative energy development. She introduced the  “Clean Energy Jobs Act,” which would extend a 30 percent tax credit for domestic companies that manufacture products used in clean energy projects such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Heller too said he supports renewable energy development, including some federal support.

Berkley’s ethics investigation initiates another round of discussion

Berkley, who is the subject of a House ethics investigation over whether her support of a kidney transplant program in Southern Nevada benefited her physician husband, was asked about the charges. The investigation is under way and is not expected to be resolved before the election.

Berkley did not respond directly to the question, saying only that her only motive was to help Nevadans. Instead she used the opportunity to again attack Heller for voting for big oil subsidies.

Heller said “character matters,” and called Berkley’s ethics issues “a pattern” that existed prior to her being elected to Congress in 1998.

Heller was referring to a memo Berkley wrote to her then-Las Vegas Sands Inc. boss Sheldon Adelson about needing to do favors to local elected officials to get favorable treatment. The memo was made public in 1998.

The Berkley campaign has called the memo old news and not a factor in her election to Congress.

“I think character does matter, and you know what’s important to the people of the state of Nevada? Who’s going to protect them. Who is going to be fighting for them in the U.S. Senate,” Berkley said in the debate. “The middle income families, who’s working for them, who’s making sure that we get people to go back to work.”

Questions about who supports Medicare take center stage

The candidates also debated the future of Medicare, and Heller’s two votes for changing the program to a voucher plan for those under age 55.

Heller said Berkley’s vote for the health care act meant taking $700 billion from Medicare.

“She needs to quit stealing,” from Medicare, he said.

Berkley said moving Medicare to private insurance companies will cost Nevadans more, and “put private insurance company bureaucrats in-between doctors and their patients.”

Berkley said she did not cut money out of Medicare benefits, but instead voted to eliminate over-payments to insurance companies.

Does Heller want to eliminate the Department of Education?

Another issue that provoked a dispute between the candidates is whether Heller has in fact called for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education.

Heller said he does not support closing the agency, but that it should be downsized to provide more money directly to local school districts.

The Berkley campaign argues that Heller has called for the elimination of the agency.

The Pahrump Valley Times reported: “Heller singled out the U.S. Department of Education for elimination. ‘Just to give you an idea of how they decide how Pahrump Valley High School should be run, we have 3,500 people back in Washington D.C. in the Department of Education that average more than $100,000 per year per person. Now you can’t tell me you can’t take that money, move it to the states and be able to teach better, giving it to the teachers, the principals and the parents.’ ”


Audio clips:

Sen. Dean Heller says he did not make “hobos” remark:

092812Heller1 :10 not say that.”

Heller says Shelley Berkley has voted to bailout big business, not the middle class:

092812Heller2 :12 support big bailouts.”

Rep. Shelly Berkley says Heller supports big business and shipping jobs overseas:

092812Berkley1 :10 their tax subsidies.”

Berkley says the question is who is going to fight for the middle class in the U.S. Senate:

092812Berkley2 :14 back to work.”


Florida Sen. Rubio Rallies Support For Heller’s Election Bid, Berkley Continues Attack On GOP Plan For Medicare

By Sean Whaley | 5:58 pm August 16th, 2012

RENO – GOP Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, at one time a resident of Las Vegas, rallied supporters for Sen. Dean Heller’s election bid today at an area nightclub.

Rubio, who earlier in the day held a rally with Heller in Las Vegas, toured a local business, the Great Basin Brewing Company, before arriving at Mambo’s next to the Atlantis hotel-casino.

Several hundred supporters turned out for the Reno event.

Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio campaigns for Sen. Dean Heller in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

In brief remarks, Rubio talked about growing up in Las Vegas, and how the hotel-casino jobs held by his parents helped the family live the “American dream.” Rubio spent seven years in Las Vegas and attended elementary school there.

His dad was a bartender and his mom was a maid, and they had jobs because someone with money built a hotel in Las Vegas, he said.

“And every two weeks my parents cashed a paycheck,” Rubio said. “They were never rich, but they lived the American dream, because they were able to give us the chance to do all the things they never had a chance to do. Because all the doors that had been closed for them, opened for us.”

Rubio said President Obama’s ideas of big government are the same that have “kept people in poverty for centuries.”

“What’s at stake here really is the majority in the United States Senate,” he told the crowd in remarks that lasted about 10 minutes. “You want to repeal Obamacare? Then you better have a Republican majority in the Unites State Senate. You want to have a tax code that encourages people to create jobs in America? Then you better have a Republican majority in the United States Senate. And we can’t have a Republican majority in the United States Senate if Dean Heller is not reelected to the United States Senate.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that in addition to the Las Vegas rally, Heller and Rubio met with Sheldon Adelson and held a fundraising event that brought in close to $200,000.

Heller’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., was in Northern Nevada today as well, continuing a tour of the state to criticize what she called “the Heller-Ryan-Romney plan to end Medicare as we know it.”

Berkley held events in both Carson City and Fallon.

Heller said he was “proud” to be the only member of Congress to be able to vote twice for the plan to turn Medicare over to “profit-hungry private insurance companies,” Berkley said in a statement.

“Their plan would put insurance company bureaucrats between patients and their doctors while raising premiums by $6,000 a year,” she said. “Nevadans cannot afford the Heller-Ryan-Romney plan to undermine the benefits they are depending on to be there when they retire. I’ll continue to fight each and every day to ensure Medicare’s guaranteed benefits are there for Nevadans for generations to come.”


Audio clips:

Sen. Marco Rubio says if Nevadans want to repeal Obamacare and create jobs, they need to elect Dean Heller to the Senate:

081612Rubio1 :21 United States Senate.”

Rubio says his parents lived the American dream while working in Las Vegas:

081612Rubio2 :24 opened for us.”

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.”



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.”


Heller Campaign Releases New Ad Outlining Berkley’s Alleged Ethics Problems

By Sean Whaley | 11:21 am July 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A new ad released by the Dean Heller for Senate campaign this week documents what it describes as an established pattern of Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., using her office for personal gain.

“Berkley pushed legislation and twisted the arms of federal regulators, advocating policies for financial gain, saving her husband’s industry millions,” the ad says. “Shelley Berkley took care of herself, and she got caught.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., addresses the Nevada Legislature in 2011. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The ad comes just as the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously late last month to establish an investigative subcommittee to determine whether she inappropriately furthered the business interests of her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner.

In a new development today, Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston is reporting that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has asked Secretary of State Ross Miller to confirm that Nevada law mandates that Berkley must stay on the ballot even if she withdraws because of ethics problems.

In a statement in response to the Heller ad, the Berkley campaign said: “Shelley Berkley’s one and only concern is Nevada patients, which is why she fought to prevent Nevada’s only kidney transplant program from being shut down by Washington bureaucrats and why she has worked to ensure Medicare recipients continue to receive the care they need.

“While Shelley Berkley won’t stop fighting for Nevada’s patients, middle-class families and seniors, Senator Dean Heller is pulling the rug out from under them by voting twice to end Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies, protecting taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil companies and defending tax breaks for Wall Street corporations that ship American jobs overseas,” the statement concluded.

The Heller campaign expanded on the brief ad in a press release issued today, citing a report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) from 2011 identifying Berkley as one of the most corrupt members of Congress.

The report said in part: “The congresswoman vocally advocates for Washington policies that financially benefit her kidney surgeon husband. In turn, she has become a major recipient of campaign donations from those in the kidney care industry.”

The release also cites the New York Times report published in September 2011 detailing her efforts in 2008 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.”

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.

The ethics review announced Monday is expected to be an ongoing campaign issue for Berkley, who is seeking Heller’s Senate seat. Heller was appointed to the seat by Gov. Brian Sandoval in April 2011.

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

The Heller ad is the latest in what is expected to be a barrage of attacks by the two candidates over the next four months. An ad criticizing Heller for his votes in support of changes to the Medicare program, paid for by the Political Action Committee Patriot Majority, was in turn criticized by the Heller campaign this week for being false and misleading.


Heller Senate Campaign Calls Patriot Majority Attack Ads On Medicare Votes False

By Sean Whaley | 11:50 am July 10th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A television ad campaign sponsored by the pro-Democrat Patriot Majority attacking GOP Sen. Dean Heller on his Medicare votes has expanded to Las Vegas and is again being called false by his campaign.

The ads say Heller voted to “end Medicare,” twice, once while serving in the House from the 2nd Congressional District and once after being appointed to the Senate by Gov. Brian Sandoval in April 2011

Heller voted in April 2011 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. It was part of an overall deficit reduction plan that passed the House on a mostly party-line vote.

He voted in the Senate in May 2011 to proceed with the Ryan bill. The vote failed on a 57-40 mostly party-line vote.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

The ads have been running in Northern Nevada and have now expanded to the Las Vegas area. The Northern Nevada ad features Washoe Valley residents Jimmie and Dexter Sale who would not have been affected by the Ryan Medicare plan because of their age.

The new ad says Heller voted twice to “end Medicare as we know it” and that the legislation would have “raised seniors’ health costs nearly $6,000 a year.”

Heller, who is running for his first full-term in the Senate, is being challenged by Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. The race is considered critical to both parties’ efforts to control the Senate in the 2012 general election.

“Shelley Berkley and Harry Reid just keep repeating the same ‘Lie of the Year,’ hoping they can keep misleading seniors all the way through November,” said Chandler Smith, spokeswoman for the Heller for Senate campaign. “Shelley Berkley has always done whatever it takes to score political points, so her ‘Mediscare’ tactics really come as no surprise.”

The Berkley campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ads, which are being paid for by the third-party political action committee.

The Heller campaign said Democrat attacks in the Medicare ad were deemed PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2011. The analysis by the group said Democrats ignored the fact that the Ryan plan would not have affected people currently in Medicare or those 55 to 65 who would join the program in the next 10 years.

Democrats also used harsh terms such as “end” and “kill” when the program would still exist, although in a privatized system, PolitiFact said. And they used pictures and video of elderly people who clearly were too old to be affected by the Ryan plan, the analysis said.

The Heller campaign said Berkley voted for the Affordable Care Act “that cut $500 billion out of the Medicare program.”

Heller has voted to preserve the Medicare program, the campaign said, by voting against both the Affordable Care Act and the Budget Control Act, which provides for possible Medicare cuts of up to $11 billion a year (about $140 billion over ten years) if deficit reduction targets are not reached.

Heller has consistently voted to ensure physicians are properly reimbursed so they will continue participating in the Medicare program and provide necessary services for seniors, the campaign said.

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.”

U.S. Senate Candidates Berkley, Heller, Trade Barbs On Chinese Currency Issue

By Sean Whaley | 3:35 pm October 5th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Last week it was a dispute about the Small Business Jobs Act and whether it will create any jobs in Nevada that generated controversy between the two major party candidates for the U.S. Senate.

This week the issue is Chinese currency manipulation and its negative effects on job creation in Nevada and the nation that has the candidates firing back and forth.

Jobs, or more precisely the lack of jobs, is clearly the key in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Rep. Shelly Berkley, D-Nev.

In a telephone conference call today, Berkley blasted Heller for opposing the legislation that would impose sanctions on the Chinese government for manipulating its currency, a practice she said has cost nearly 2.8 million jobs in the U.S. between 2001 and 2010, including 14,800 in Nevada.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., addresses the Legislature earlier this year. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“This election is about one issue: jobs,” Berkley said in a telephone conference with the media. “Nevada’s unemployment is still a record high. However, not everyone in Washington is working to create jobs for Nevada and for the rest of our nation. In fact, there are some here in the nation’s capital who are doing the exact opposite.”

The Senate voted 79-19 in support of the Chinese currency bill, with Heller, appointed to fill out the term of John Ensign, who resigned, voting against the measure. Some Democrat senators voted against the bill as well.

“This is not just unacceptable, it is shameful, and it shows my opponent just doesn’t get it,” Berkley said. “Across the state Nevadans are scratching their heads, and they are asking: ‘who do you work for Dean, the Chinese, the Chinese government, or Nevada’s working families.’ Job creation needs to be our top priority.”

Heller, speaking in support of three amendments to the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform bill on the Senate floor today, said the measure takes the wrong approach to job creation and could be detrimental to U.S. economic growth.

U.S. Senator Dean Heller.

“Inciting a trade war with China will not create jobs,” he said. “In my home state of Nevada, a trade war would hurt tourism. It would stifle growth in renewable energy development and increase costs to consumers at a time when they can least afford it.

“Working to sell American goods in foreign markets is what we should be fighting for,” Heller said. “Instead, it seems job creation and economic growth has taken a back seat to political posturing and grandstanding here in Washington.”

Heller has proposed an amendment to the legislation that he says would help create jobs in the U.S. by addressing government policies affecting the domestic critical minerals supply chain.

“Within the United States are some of the largest concentrations of rare earth minerals in the world,” Heller said in a release discussing the amendment. “At a time when Nevada is leading the country in unemployment, we need access to the natural resources in our backyard now more than ever.”

He also spoke in support of an amendment to the legislation that will rein in excessive federal regulations that are stifling job creation.

Heller said the proposal would require a market-benefit analysis so the public can know the true cost of any proposed regulations.

Berkley said during the telephone conference that the U.S. is already in a trade war with China, one that Nevada working families are losing. The measure would level the playing field, she said. By keeping the value of their currency artificially low, it makes it impossible for American manufacturing to compete, Berkley said.


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says Heller is not working to create jobs in Nevada:

100511Berkley1 :19 the exact opposite.”

Berkley says Heller is siding with the Chinese government over unemployed Nevadans:

100511Berkley2 :19 doesn’t get it.”

Berkley says Nevadans want to know who Heller is working for:

100511Berkley3 :13 our top priority.”

Sen. Dean Heller says the currency bill could incite a trade war with China:

100511Heller1 :24 least afford it.”

Heller says working to sell American goods in foreign markets is what we should be fighting for:

100511Heller2 :23 have failed miserably.”

Heller says Congress needs to roll back regulations that are tying the hands of entrepreneurs:

100511Heller3 :14 pockets of Americans.”



Democrat Candidate For Nevada U.S. Senate Seat In 2012 Says He Is In The Race To Stay

By Sean Whaley | 3:18 pm August 1st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Byron Georgiou said he is in the race to win it in 2012 despite facing opposition from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Georgiou, who has put in more than $1 million of his own money into what is expected to be a tough primary race against Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said that he will carry on regardless of how much money Reid puts in against his candidacy.

“Sen. Reid, and I have tremendous respect for him, I supported him, I’m glad that he beat Sharron Angle, I think it would have been a mistake for Nevada to have done otherwise,” Georgiou said. “He’s entitled to his opinion, he is one person and we respectfully disagree.

“If I didn’t believe, Sam, that I was the strongest candidate in this race of the three candidates, that is Dean Heller, Shelley Berkley and myself, I wouldn’t be in it.”

Byron Georgiou, Nevada Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate.

Georgiou made his comments in an interview that aired today on the Nevada NewsMakers television show hosted by Sam Shad.

“I believe that I have a better chance, the best chance, to beat Dean Heller in the general election in November, and I will abide by the judgment of the people of Nevada who will make that choice,” he said.

Georgiou declined to specify how much of his own money he will put into the race.

Berkley announced her intention to seek the seat in April.

Georgiou’s entry into the race means there will be a potentially competitive Democrat primary that could drain both candidates of campaign funds needed to beat Heller in November next year.

Heller was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to the Senate seat made vacant with the resignation of John Ensign.

Georgiou said that as a candidate he will focus on the issues of greatest concern to Nevadans, from the highest rate of home foreclosures and unemployment to bankruptcy filings, among other grim statistics.

Nevada is at “ground zero” of the financial crisis, he said.

Georgiou was appointed in 2009 as one of 10 members nationwide to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission with Reid’s support. The commission spent more than 18 months examining the causes of the financial crisis.

Georgiou said he is calling for a reduction in the principal balance of all underwater mortgages in Nevada down to the actual current market price of the home.

“This is just recognizing a reality that is already true,” he said.

Georgiou lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two daughters. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School.

Georgiou said as an outsider, he can bring a fresh perspective to the challenges facing the country.

“I think that the voters of Nevada recognize that the problems in Washington have been created largely by the people who are there and they’re the ones least likely to solve them,” he said.

Audio clips:

Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Byron Georgiou says he is the strongest candidate in the race:

080111Georgiou1 :25 be in it.”

Georgiou says he will abide by the choice of Nevada voters:

080111Georgiou2 :11 make that choice.”

Georgiou says he will focus on the issues of most concern to Nevadans, including unemployment and home foreclosures:

080111Georgiou3 :24 to focus on.”


Nevada Rep. Berkley Stresses Education, Alternative Energy In Remarks To Lawmakers

By Sean Whaley | 8:19 pm April 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Recently announced U.S. Senate candidate Shelley Berkley spoke to the Nevada Legislature today, stressing education, infrastructure and energy independence as ways to create jobs and get the state back on track.

Berkley, D-Nev., who has served in the House of Representatives from Congressional District 1 in Southern Nevada since 1999, delivered her remarks in the Assembly in front of lawmakers, Gov. Brian Sandoval and the other constitutional officers, and the members of the Nevada Supreme Court.

Berkley’s visit to the Legislative Building comes just days after her announcement that she will run for the Senate seat being vacated by John Ensign, R-Nev. Berkley will likely be facing fellow Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in the 2012 race.

The upcoming Senate race did not come up in her remarks, which focused on how to get Nevadans back to work.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., addresses the Legislature today/Photo: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

Education is a key to this effort, Berkley said.

“Businesses coming to Nevada need and want a well educated and well-trained workforce, and they are not going to come here if we don’t deliver that,” she said.

In perhaps her most pointed remarks, Berkley acknowledged the sometimes acrimonious and partisan debate in the Assembly on Tuesday regarding Sandoval’s public education budget, saying “in my mind, gutting our education system is short-changing our children.”

Berkley said she was not leveling any criticism at the hard work of lawmakers in addressing public education funding in a time of scarce resources, but that failing to fund education is undermining Nevada’s ability to diversify its economy.

She also talked about the need to restore the country’s infrastructure as one way to create jobs, and the opportunities available in Nevada to develop alternative energy sources, which would not only provide economic benefits to the state but would help wean the country off its dependence on foreign oil as well.

“Energy independence in my mind is a national security imperative,” Berkley said. “It is incomprehensible to me that a superpower like the United States of America is so dependent on the Saudis and the Venezuelans and the Nigerians to have our energy needs met. These countries are not our friends.”

Berkley also said there is an effort under way in Washington, DC, to re-initiate the development of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump, which she said is unnecessary because of the ability to store the waste safely at the nuclear reactor sites. It is time to close the door on Yucca Mountain as a waste site, which would also save $100 billion in development costs, she said.

Berkley spoke out against a Republican proposal in Congress to replace Medicare with a voucher program, saying it would cost seniors, many of whom rely on social security to live, $6,000 in out-of-pocket health care costs.

In a brief meeting with the media after her remarks, she did say her race against Heller will present Nevada voters with a clear choice on policy issues including Medicare and Social Security.

The number one issue will be jobs, and Berkley said her position “is the correct one to move this nation and this state into the future.”

Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says companies looking at coming to Nevada want an educated workforce:

042011Berkley1 :11 don’t deliver that.”

Berkley says failing to fund education will shortchange children and hurt economic diversification efforts:

042011Berkley2 :20 diversify our economy.”

Berkley says the U.S. has to end its dependence on foreign oil:

042011Berkley3 :19 not our friends.”

Berkley says it’s time to end Yucca Mountain once and for all:

042011Berkley4 :14 and for all.”

Full Berkley address to Legislature, part 1:

042011Berkley Address 1 8:15

Full Berkley address to Legislature, part 2:

042011Berkley address 2 4:58

Full Berkley address to Legislature, part 3:

042011Berkely address 3 7:07

Full Berkley address to Legislature, part 4:

042011Berkley address 4 5:45

Krolicki Endorses Heller for Senate, Says Considering NV-2

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:16 am March 15th, 2011

Politico reports that Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki has formally endorsed Rep. Dean Heller and will “take time” to consider a run for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District. Quote:

“I’m embracing his candidacy, and I told him over the weekend that I will do everything within my power to help him become a U.S. Senator.  I’m a team player and Dean is a very important friend in my life, as is his family,” said Krolicki, who noted that he had several conversations with Heller since Sen. John Ensign’s announcement to retire.

Krolicki also told Politico he hoped “his endorsement would signal to Nevada Republicans that they should unite around Heller’s bid and avoid the intra-party fratricide that hindered GOP hopes at upending Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid last year.”

Methinks Krolicki hopes in vain. At least one viable GOP contender will probably challenge Heller in the Senate primary.

We shall soon see.




Heller Formally Announces U.S. Senate Run to Supporters

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:24 am March 15th, 2011

At 8:12 a.m. this morning, Rep. Dean Heller finally sent an email to his supporters announcing the U.S. Senate run I confirmed here last week.

Heller has a pretty new campaign website, and here is the text of the email:


Your past support has meant a lot me and for this reason I wanted you to be among the first to know that I am running for the United States Senate.

It is difficult to see so many people hurting in my home state. As many of you know, I grew up in Nevada and my wife Lynne and I have raised our family here. We see the tough choices our friends, neighbors, and family members are making every day and I see how poor decisions in Washington are impacting their lives.

This is not the first time that Nevadans have endured tough times and it won’t be the last, but I know that there are better days ahead.

Our strength as a state and a nation is bigger than the troubles of today. However, it is also incumbent upon us to effect change in difficult times to create a better future.

As families across Nevada struggle to pay their bills and fight to keep their homes, Barack Obama and his beltway allies are proposing record spending that will add to America’s job-killing debt from a stratospheric $14 trillion to a staggering $20 trillion.

We cannot allow this to happen.

We can change the course we are on by taking action today. The choices we make can lead to big changes in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. This is a crossroad that will not only change Nevada, but significantly change the direction of our nation for years to come.

If we are to turn our economy around, we must remove impediments that have caused economic stagnation and the inability of businesses to create new jobs. Not continue with business as usual.

We cannot ignore our nation’s very serious fiscal problems and continue to allow Obama’s big government job killing agenda to continue.

I have long been an opponent of reckless government spending and continue to support a balanced budget. In 2008, I stood up to former President Bush, then Senator Obama, and Washington special interests and said no to the Wall Street bailout. In fact, I was the only member of the Nevada delegation to vote against the Wall Street bailout, not once but twice. My view then, just as it is now, is that debt fueled bailouts only hurts long-term economic growth and places taxpayers on the hook for the excesses of Wall Street.

Now I want to take this fight to the United States Senate.

Congress can no longer refuse to make tough fiscal decisions and stick our children and grandchildren with the massive debt that has been allowed to accrue for far too long. We must take control of government spending to instill long-term economic growth in our country.

There are those who believe government spending is not the problem and we should simply raise taxes and treat the American public as an ATM. Let me assure you that I believe Washington has a spending problem—not a revenue problem—and that tax increases are not the answer especially in our current economic environment.

Just like many families across our state, Lynne and I sit around the table and discuss the direction of our country, the future of our children, and the needs of the people of our great state who have endured in this struggling economy for far too long.

It is time to move beyond the failed policies of the past and create real economic growth in Nevada.

I know that the tough times are not yet over. However, I also know that there are better times ahead.

Together we can move our country in a new direction, get Nevadans working again, and create a more prosperous future for us and our children.

It has been an honor to serve you and our great state in the House. I hope I can count on your continued support. With your help, we can bring a new conservative majority to the United States Senate.




Rep. Berkley “Taking The Pulse” In Reno As She Weighs Senate Bid

By Andrew Doughman | 2:02 pm February 1st, 2011

RENO — Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said she is “taking the pulse” of Reno this week as she considers a bid for Republican Sen. John Ensign’s seat in the 2012 election.

She told Sam Shad and Ray Hagar on Nevada NewsMakers today that she is raising campaign money, but she said the money is for her re-election bid in Congress. For now.

When asked when she plans to make her decision to run for Senate, she said “there’s no rush.”

“I’m taking my time, I’m meeting with people, I’m up here in Reno this week, just to touch bases with old friends, kind of taking the pulse of the people of Reno,” she said.

Last year, she said she’d make a decision before Valentine’s Day.

She had earlier told Jon Ralston on his Face to Face television program that she planned to announce a decision sometime during late spring or early summer of this year.

[CORRECTION: Shelley Berkley told Las Vegas Sun reporter Karoun Demirjioan that she would make a decision before Valentine's Day. The Nevada News Bureau had erroneously reported that she had told this to Jon Ralston.]

Gov. Gibbons Appoints Former U.S. Senate Candidate Sue Lowden To Medical Board

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 6:16 pm December 14th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons has appointed Sue Lowden to the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners. Lowden has lived and worked in Nevada for more than 30 years. She is a former Nevada state senator who recently ran in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

“Sue Lowden’s outstanding public service contributions to the people of Nevada make her an excellent choice for appointment to this important position,” Gibbons said. “Sue brings a long history of achievement in the public and private sectors to the board.”

“I am proud that Gov. Gibbons has chosen me for this position,” Lowden said. “I am looking forward to working with the other board members to protect our health system in Nevada.”

Some political observers believe it was Lowden’s suggestion that people barter with their physicians to obtain medical care that derailed her GOP Senate primary campaign. Lowden said previous generations paid for care by bringing a chicken to the doctor, a remark that was widely criticized as out of touch.

Lowden was a television anchorwoman and reporter in Las Vegas before embarking on a business career. She is a Nevada gaming licensee and currently serves as a member of the board of directors and secretary-treasurer of Archon Corp., a gaming and investment company. She is the former president of the Santa Fe Hotel and Casino and former executive vice-president of the Sahara Hotel and Casino – both in Las Vegas. Lowden earned a Women of Achievement Award from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Nevada’s largest business organization.

Lowden will take the seat of Las Vegan Van Hefner, who recently resigned from the board. Lowden’s term will expire on June 30, 2014.

Angle Votes to Raise Legislative Pay Confirmed, Spokesperson Calls Lowden Attack Ad “Desperate”

By Sean Whaley | 1:39 pm May 21st, 2010

CARSON CITY – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sue Lowden has a new ad attacking her GOP rival Sharron Angle over her past votes in the Nevada Legislature to raise lawmaker pay as the June 8 primary draws near and early voting is set to begin tomorrow.

Lowden, who is seeking the GOP nod to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the November general election, also issued a release this week charging that Angle twice voted to raise her own pay while a member of the Nevada Assembly.

The release came after Angle on Wednesday denied in a radio interview ever voting to raise her own pay.

Lowden spokesman Robert Uithoven then responded with this statement: “For years, campaign after campaign, Sharron has run on the motto of ‘Don’t read my lips, read my record.’ It is clearly stated in the Assembly record that Sharron voted to raise her pay not once, but twice, while serving in the state Assembly. Sharron invites Nevadans to support her based on her record. Therefore, they have a right to know the truth.”

“As a fiscal conservative, Sue has never voted to increase her salary,” Uithoven said.

The legislative record shows that Angle voted to raise her own pay in 2001. Then, in 2005, she voted for Senate Joint Resolution 11, which asked voters in 2006 to amend the state constitution to allow lawmakers to be paid for every day of a legislative session rather than the 60 days limited in the constitution currently.

Since sessions now last 120 days, the resolution would have doubled lawmaker pay if voters had approved the ballot question.

Voters rejected Question 11 in 2006 by 70 percent to 30 percent.

In 2001, Angle was one of 36 members of the Assembly who voted for Assembly Bill 606, which would have raised legislative pay from $130 a day for the first 60 days of a legislative session to $175 a day for the first 60 days, a 35 percent increase.

Under the measure, lawmakers would not have received the pay increase until they stood for re-election.

The bill passed the Assembly but never saw a vote in the Senate. The bill also proposed to raise the pay of other public officials.

Lowden is week noted that as a state senator in 1995, she voted against a bill to raise her own pay.

Angle campaign spokesman Jerry Stacy said the 2001 bill was “convoluted,” containing numerous pay provisions for many different elected officials. The small section on legislative pay “just got by her,” he said. As to the 2005 vote, Stacy said Angle was already planning to run for Congress and so knew it would not affect her.

Angle voted against three other legislative pay measures, Stacy said.

“Clearly Sharron has never tried to benefit from any her votes in the Legislature,” he said.  “They’ve spent thousands of dollars doing research. If this is the best they can come up with, they are pretty desperate.”

Economy, Health Care and Harry Reid Hot Topics at GOP Senate Debate

By Sean Whaley | 1:36 pm April 24th, 2010

RENO – Half a dozen candidates in the crowded GOP field seeking to take on Harry Reid in the U.S. Senate race in November debated here Friday, with responses showing more agreement than discord on issues ranging from immigration reform to the need to reduce the size of the federal government.

Businesswoman and front-runner Sue Lowden, Las Vegas businessman Danny Tarkanian, former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, current Assemblyman Chad Christensen, investment banker John Chachas, and military veteran Bill Parson, all participated in the 90-minute exchange sponsored by Anger is Brewing, an active group in the Nevada Tea Party movement.

Polls show several of the GOP candidates defeating Reid in a head-to-head match-up.

Candidates were asked what the federal government’s role should be in rebuilding the economy.

Chachas, who grew up in Ely, said the best way for the federal government to help would be to get out of the way.

“We have an economy that is enormously dynamic, and the more the government imposes itself on it, the worse this recession will be, the longer it will last,” he said. “The government trying to decide which industries we want to invest in is a bad idea.”

Creating short-term government jobs won’t work either, Chachas said, adding that it’s important to control the “head count” of public employees which is the nation’s fastest growing employment sector.

Lowden said government needs to get out of the way, but it should cut taxes as well to spur economic growth.

Cutting the corporate tax, the payroll tax and zeroing out capital gains are all ways to help the country get back on its feet, she said.

Christensen said the first objective to restoring the economy is replacing Reid, the Senate majority leader.

“I will take the fight to make sure that the federal government stops meddling in Nevada,” he said. “We have to make sure our entrepreneurs have a home and it’s here, and that we’re able to attract industry to this business mecca and magnet called the state of Nevada.”

Angle said her economic policy is called “pay back, cut back and take back.” It stands for pay back the deficit, cut back on taxation, spending and regulation and take back by repealing the federal health care law.

“Our government shouldn’t be involved in our economy here in Nevada,” she said. “I have a record of no new taxes as your state legislator.”

Angle said her first bill would be to “unfund Obamacare.”

Tarkanian said his economic plan talks about reducing taxes, but also seeks to lessen burdensome federal regulations.

“We have to reign in the power of the EPA, OSHA, and some of these other agencies that are costing our businesses so much money where they can’t compete internationally and preventing them from expanding and increasing,” he said.

Tarkanian said he also supports turning Yucca Mountain into a site for reprocessing of nuclear waste, which would generate jobs for the Nevada economy.

All the candidates said they support tax reform with numerous references to abolishing the income tax and going to a “fair tax” or “flat tax” system.

The candidates were also asked to comment on the federal health care legislation.

Christensen said the law puts a $600 million burden on the state of Nevada that the citizens cannot afford to pay at a time of economic crisis.

“We absolutely have to repeal,” he said. “It is a crying shame that our senior senator Harry Reid called that his bill and that’s why he has got to go.”

Chachas said repealing the law is a simple matter of introducing legislation in Congress, but Republicans have to offer an alternative.

The way to bring health care costs down is to put consumers in charge of their purchasing decisions, he said.

Lowden said legislation to repeal won’t work if there isn’t a president who will sign such a measure. In the meantime, Congress should stop funding elements of the bill such as the hiring of 17,000 IRS agents to enforce the law, she said.

Tarkanian said he supports repeal as well and that a court challenge is the best option. One key to reducing the cost of care is tort reform, he said.

Angle said as a state legislator, she sought a repeal of the mandated coverages required in Nevada for a health care policy to lower costs. Angle said she also introduced tort reform legislation.

Parson said the states should sue to overturn the law, but must also look at a long-term strategy.

“We must say that we the people, will not tolerate this type of disrespect towards the Constitution,” he said.

Following the health care question was a discussion of state’s rights and the 10th amendment.  All the candidates said they believe the federal government has to some degree over-stepped its Constitutional authority and that the states need to fight for more sovereignty in policy making.

The candidates were also asked what their major weakness would be if they win the primary and face Reid, who is expected to have a campaign war chest of $25 million

Chachas said Reid will try to make his 25 years of experience in the private sector a liability, but said it is actually his biggest asset.

Angle said she would be painted as too conservative, but that she will lead a broad coalition of groups, from the Eagle Forum to gun owners, who all say Reid has to go.

Christensen enumerated the many reasons why he believes he has the best chance to defeat Reid, including the fact he has won every political race he has run. He got a laugh from the crowd when, asked to answer the question about his liabilities, Christensen said he didn’t know of any.

Lowden said she has already been attacked by Reid on a variety of issues, and that those attacks will intensify if she advances in the primary. But Lowden said she defeated the state Senate majority leader in 1992 and so knows how to deal with political attacks.

Lowden drew laughter and applause when she said that if Harry Reid spends $25 million in Nevada in the general election, it would give the state “the best stimulus” he’s provided yet.

Tarkanian said Reid will trot out the discredited opposition research used against him in previous races, but said he can deflect it because it has been proven in court to be false and defamatory. Tarkanian said he will focus on Reid’s poor record as a senator.

Candidates agreed that immigration reform is needed and were generally opposed to amnesty while differing slightly in their policy focus.

Chachas emphasized the need to enforce existing laws, while Tarkanian talked about removing incentives to illegal immigrants such as taxpayer funded welfare benefits, education and medical care.

Christensen congratulated Arizona on their new immigration law, and Angle agreed Arizona needs to “stop the invasion” of illegal immigrants into their state.

Lowden said she “absolutely agrees with what Arizona is doing.”

Parson suggested giving all illegal immigrants 90 days notice to leave the country or sending law enforcement to remove them forcibly.