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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ethics Inquiry Into Rep.Shelley Berkley, Nevada Democrat running now for Senate

WASHINGTON — Representative Shelley Berkley’s bid for a Senate seat in Nevada will most likely remain under an ethics cloud through Election Day after the House ethics committee disclosed Monday that it had appointed a formal investigative panel to look into allegations that she used her office to help her husband’s medical practice.

The move by the ethics committee suggests that a preliminary investigation found at least some evidence of wrongdoing. This is only the second time in nearly two years that the committee has formally opened a full, new investigation into a sitting House member. 

Ms. Berkley has been accused of wrongly intervening with Medicare officials in 2008 after they threatened to close a troubled kidney transplant center in Las Vegas where her husband’s kidney-care practice served as consulting physicians.

Ms. Berkley over the last five years has also played a leading role in the House in pushing an agenda advocated by the Renal Physicians Association, while her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, served as a national leader in the group. That included appealing to House colleagues to prevent cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors like her husband who perform dialysis. 

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