Today, Mac Abrams, Heller for Senate Campaign Manager, sent the following memo to Nevada and National Media:
As expected and obviously no surprise to any of us, the Democratic spin machine has been whirring since the bipartisan House Ethics Committee unanimously decided to create a subcommittee to further investigate Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. While the Democrats have been desperate to explain actions and investments that led the Las Vegas Sun to call Shelley Berkley “a dialysis magnate,” it appears that some journalists are only looking at the cover of this story and have not yet read the book.
There is much more to this story than the distractions, distortions, attacks, and outright lies of the State Democratic Party and Shelley Berkley that, in my view, deserve greater attention. And, while the UMC contract may be a component of this investigation, it is far from being the only one.
So, in a good faith attempt to cut directly to the point of the matter, please consider the following as you continue to cover this story and the race:
Fact 1: The House Ethics Committee is comprised of five Democrats and five Republicans. The Committee unanimously decided to create an investigative subcommittee on the basis of a non-partisan report from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The Committee decided to move forward on the basis of this report for the first time since 2009.
Fact 2: To be clear, that means two separate groups have decided that this case merited further investigation. First, the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended further action. Second, the House Ethics Committee created a subcommittee to continue to investigate. These two groups have not agreed to do that since 2009.
Fact 3: “The House Ethics Committee has not officially punished the vast majority of lawmakers it has investigated as a result of referrals from an independent ethics panel,” The Hill reported this week. The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has sent 32 known cases to the House Ethics Committee. The panel has launched only eight formal investigations, according to the Hill report. (Jordy Yager,“Ethics panel has track record of leniency,” The Hill, July 18, 2012)
Fact 4: This ethics investigation has to do, only in part, with Shelley Berkley’s work to secure a UMC contract that benefited her husband and her household. It is true that Dean Heller signed the letter about that UMC contract. It is also true that Dean Heller did not know that Congresswoman Berkley’s husband was a kidney doctor or stood to profit from the contract. In fact, to my knowledge, only one reporter has ever actually asked that question of Heller or his office.
Fact 5: The New York Times reported that Shelley Berkley wrote a letter to Rep. Pete Stark, the chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over Medicare “warning him to move carefully in considering changes in compensating doctors who provided dialysis treatments.” Shelley Berkley lobbied singlehandedly to protect her husband’s industry. (Eric Lipton, “A Congresswoman’s Cause Is Often Her Husband’s Gain,” The New York Times, 9/5/11)
Fact 6: “Shelley Berkley’s husband helped build a political action committee that has regularly turned to Berkley to champion its causes,” The New York Times reported. Meanwhile, Congresswoman Berkley “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.” Shelley Berkley’s husband’s actions over the years have come dangerously close to the line defining what a lobbyist is and what it is not.
Fact 7: “In addition to the hospital contract, Dr. Lehrner operates a dozen dialysis centers in Nevada and has played a central role in an industry campaign to lobby members of Congress — including his wife — on behalf of kidney care providers,” The New York Times reported. According to the Las Vegas Sun, “Berkley’s wealth is mostly found in investment accounts, and the various buildings and companies related to her husband’s medical practice. But she’s also got millions in what she itemizes as ‘dialysis units.’ In fact, it’s about $1.6 million to $6.3 million in dialysis units.” These investments led the Sun to name Shelley Berkley, “a dialysis magnate.” (Karoun Demirjian, “Our congressional leaders: What they’re worth and where they invest,” Las Vegas Sun, June 16, 2011)
Fact 8: Shelley Berkley’s Democratic talking points completely ignore the complexity and weight of the situation. Not to mention, there may have been additional violations uncovered by the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Fact 9: Shelley Berkley’s comments and actions after the House Ethics Committee announced its investigations have been flippant and casual. As a lawyer and a Congresswoman who has sworn to adhere to and uphold the law of this country, and respect and honor the rules of the House, is Shelley Berkley suggesting that the end (the contract for the hospital) justifies the means (not properly disclosing that she and her husband could benefit financially)?
This investigation is a very serious matter as are all of the activities that Shelley Berkley has been accused of. While some of the reporting on this issue has been very insightful and thorough, some of it has glossed over the very actions that could be at the center of this investigation. For Shelley Berkley or her campaign to simply dismiss these charges as trivial, or attempt to rewrite history, greatly understates the gravity of the accusations that have been levied against her.
Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail. I and my staff look forward to working with you on this and other important issues as the campaign progresses.
Heller for Senate
Statement from Gretchen Hamel on the New GSA Investigation
Arlington, Va. – The inspector general for the General Services Administration (GSA) has launched an investigation into a $270,000 one-day awards ceremony by the GSA held outside of Washington, D.C., in 2010. According to reports, the ceremony’s expenses included, among other things, nearly $21,000 for 4,000 drumsticks for attendees, $28,000 for “time temperature picture frames” and $8,600 for an appearance by someone named “Agent X.”
Gretchen Hamel, executive director of Public Notice, issued the following statement:
Families and businesses earn every dollar they send to Washington and the federal government has an obligation to spend it honestly. The lavish spending that’s occurred at the GSA in recent years is an outrage to every hard-working American taxpayer who expects their government to live by the same values and standards that they do. This kind of reckless abuse is indicative of a ‘blank-check’ culture in this administration that has failed the American people. We deserve answers and the GSA needs to be held accountable.
By Chad Pergram
July 19, 2012
The inspector general for the scandal-plagued General Services Administration has launched an investigation into a $270,000 awards ceremony held in suburban Washington, Fox News has learned.
The GSA apparently spent thousands of dollars on hors d’oeuvres, goodie-bag items and travel costs for the one-day ceremony in November 2010. The ceremony was held shortly after GSA hosted a now-infamous Las Vegas conference that led to a shakeup at the agency and drew the outrage of lawmakers.
In a letter obtained by Fox News, Inspector General Brian Miller told Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., whose subcommittee has jurisdiction over the GSA, that he’s investigating the 2010 awards ceremony — which was held across the river from the nation’s capital in Arlington, Va.
The ceremony didn’t include any mind readers, as the Vegas convention did, but did feature a violinist and guitarist, and plenty of novelty items for guests that ran up the tab.
It also featured what was described as a “drum band exercise.” As part of that, the agency spent nearly $21,000 on 4,000 drumsticks for attendees. Separately, the agency spent more than $28,000 on “time temperature picture frames,” according to the letter.
Amonix, the California based company that received $5.9 million of federal stimulus money to open a solar energy manufacturing plant in Nevada in 2010, announced yesterday it was closing its Nevada plant after barely a year in operation. It was more bad news for Berkley’s Senate campaign.
Back on January 8, 2010, Congressman Berkley touted the federal funding for Amonix’s Nevada solar plant. In a press release issued that day, her office said:
“Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today announced that solar cell manufacturer Amonix will receive $5.9 million in federal stimulus funding to create clean energy manufacturing jobs in Nevada…This funding will be used to create Nevada jobs involved in the manufacturing of highly efficient solar panels that increase the amount of clean energy that can be harnessed from every ray of sunshine.”
Yesterday, Berkley’s Senate opponent, Republican Dean Heller, criticized her support of “big-government spending solutions.” These solutions, argued Heller, “are failing at a time when Nevadans can least afford it.”
A Breitbart News search of Federal Election Commission records shows that the now defunct Amonix, Inc. Solar Federal Political Action Committee gave almost half of its political campaign donations to the Berkley for Senate campaign. The PAC was organized in January of 2011, and terminated in June of 2012. During this time, it raised slightly in excess of $15,000. It distributed a total of $7,100 to political campaigns, $3,100 of which went to the Berkley for Senate campaign.
From USA Today
Secular parties trounce Islamists.
A coalition of secular parties turned in a very encouraging performance in Libya’s recent parliamentary elections. The National Forces Alliance won 39 out of 80 seats, while Islamist parties could only garner 17. Observers credit the success to the moderate image of the leader of the Alliance, Mahmoud Gibril, a former official in strongman Moammar Gadhafi’s government who sided with the rebels when the civil war broke out. The voters appear to be in a pragmatic mood, focusing on who can best run the government after the corruption and repression of the Gadhafi years.
INVITES DR. SALEHA ABEDIN TO DISCUSS HER POLICY POSITIONS
The Center’s invitation letter to Dr. Abedin:
New $9.3m TV ad “Smoke” will air in nine states over eleven days. Obama can’t run on that record:
On Friday, American Crossroads will launch a new television ad that pushes back against President Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney, and hits the President’s failed economic record.
The ad, entitled “Smoke,” opens with very real third party criticism of the President’s negative ads, and then tells why the President is running the ads: His administration is racking up $4 billion in new debt every day, the unemployment rate is stuck above 8%, and family incomes are falling.
President Obama “can’t run on that record,” the ad states.
The new ad will run in nine targeted states for approximately eleven days in a $9.3 million buy on broadcast television stations and with targeted internet outreach. The ad will run in the following states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.
“Barack Obama can’t run on his failed economic record so his whole strategy is trying to put his opponent through the shredder – and even that’s failing because his attacks are misleading,” said American Crossroads communications director Jonathan Collegio. “This ad shows that not only are Obama’s attacks misleading, but that a president would only run runs ads like that when trying to hide a failed record like his.”
American Crossroads is a non-profit 527 political organization dedicated to renewing America’s commitment to individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense through informed and effective political action. American Crossroads seeks to educate voters and empower citizens to hold lawmakers and office-seekers accountable for where they stand. Paid for by American Crossroads. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. www.americancrossroads.org
Statement by Susan Carelson, President of the Carleson Center for Public Policy following the press conference July 19, 2012 in support of Medicaid block grants:
“If Ronald Reagan were here today, he would heartily support the State Health Flexibility Act (HR 4160) because he cherished the genius of our constitutional system of limited government. Reagan believed it is a financial as well as a moral imperative to target limited public resources to those most in need.
Washington has proven that it is not capable of prioritizing or spending responsibly – particularly in the welfare arena, where the combination of political and bureaucratic pressures to increase dependency has become utterly toxic.
In 1971, California was heading toward bankruptcy because of out-of-control welfare spending, so Governor Reagan tapped Robert B. Carleson to design and implement the first-ever welfare reform – and it worked. Fraud and waste were reduced so much that the state not only remained solvent but was able to afford the first welfare benefit increase in over 12 years to the state’s most needy. Now, that’s compassionate governing!
Like our founding fathers, Reagan and Carleson believed that government closest to the people governs best. The ultimate success of their philosophy was the historic Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which freed millions of Americans from the narcotic of dependency.
The key was repealing the entrenched system of sending federal matching money to the states and replacing it with a system of finite block grants appropriately titled the Temporary Assistance to Families with Dependent Children (TANF). That reversed the destructive incentive for states to steadily increase their welfare rolls and spending and instead encouraged them to focus on those truly in need. The rest is history.
From the Las Vegas Sun:
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will appear at two fundraisers in August for Sen. Dean Heller — one North and South — to help his campaign against Rep. Shelley Berkley.
The Las Vegas invite for the Aug. 16 event, which I have posted at right, is for an event that will be hosted by, among others, Las Vegas Sands operative Andy Abboud, Caesars Entertainment and ex-state senator turned Gaming Commissioner Randolph Townsend.
There will also be an event later that day at Lake Tahoe — also posted at right — featuring the Florida senator and GOP rising star and hosted by Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, prominent businessman T.J. Day and others at the home of former U.S. Public Printer (and fleeting U.S. Senate candidate) Bruce James
Both are for a joint committee for Heller and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
by Chuck Muth
In a recent campaign speech attacking entrepreneurs and business owners, President Barack Obama scolded these job creators by saying they couldn’t have made it without the help of government.
“If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own,” the president said. “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” To which Jack Gilchrist, owner of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating Company, responded in a new Mitt Romney ad:
“My father’s hands didn’t build this company? My hands didn’t build this company? My son’s hands aren’t building this company? Did somebody else take out the loan on my father’s house to finance the equipment? Did somebody else make payroll every week or figure out where it’s coming from? President Obama, you’re killing us out here. Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it? We are the solution, not the problem.”
Indeed, if politicians really wanted to create jobs, they’d bear in mind this famous quote: “You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.” And yet, pulling down the job creators is exactly what government does over and over and over again. Some recent examples:[list type="arrow"] [li]
- Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller did an end-run around the Legislature to repeal by fiat an exemption from the state’s anti-business business license fee for some 60,000 small, home-based businesses that tried to protect themselves from slip-and-spill ambulance chasers by incorporating.
- In a recent transportation bill, Congress, at the bidding of Big Tobacco, essentially put out of business hundreds of small do-it-yourself/roll-your-own cigarette operations, sending thousands of workers to the unemployment lines.
- The Nevada State Tax Commission, without legislative approval, recently declared that restaurants have to begin remitting sales taxes on meals they give away to customers, charities and employees. Think about that: Restaurants now have to pay sales tax on items they didn’t even…SELL!
- The Clark County Commission told Dotty’s Taverns that it had to install bars with poker machines built into them even though Dotty’s customers prefer to sit at stand-alone poker machines on the floor. Nevertheless, the Commission forced Dotty’s to retrofit its stores, at the cost of millions of dollars, RETROACTIVELY.
- Meanwhile, the Reno City Council is considering “creating an origination fee on new alcohol related business license applications and an increase of up to 100 percent (100%) on alcohol license fees.” A 100% tax increase!
So to be fair, it’s not just Barack Obama who is killing small businesses; it’s a combination of ill-informed elected officials and over-zealous government bureaucrats. If you really want to create jobs in America, don’t turn to government; turn to people who have actually done it.
Arlington, Va. – In the latest Solyndra-style example of Washington waste, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Amonix solar manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas has closed its facilities after receiving more than $15 million in grants from the Department of Energy under the Obama administration. According to the Amonix website, The Westley Group, headed by founder and Obama money-bundler Steve Westly, was a major investor in the company; raising serious questions about the political nature of the DOE grant. Westly raised $500,000 for then candidate Obama in 2008.
Gretchen Hamel, executive director of Public Notice, issued the following statement:
Will Washington ever learn? More than a year after we lost over $500 million on Solyndra, it’s clear nothing’s changed when it comes to rewarding political allies with millions in taxpayer dollars. While this administration keeps rolling the dice on more bad investments, it’s the American people who are left deeper in debt with nothing to show for it. Nearly $16 trillion dollars in the hole, Americans can’t afford to let Washington continue to gamble away our future.
By Hubble Smith
July 18, 2012
The Amonix solar manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas, heavily financed under an Obama administration energy initiative, has closed its 214,000-square-foot facility 14 months after it opened.
Officials at Amonix headquarters in Seal Beach, Calif., have not responded to repeated calls for comment this week. The company today began selling equipment, from automated tooling systems to robotic welding cells.
A designer and manufacturer of concentrated photovoltaic solar power systems, Amonix received $6 million in federal tax credits and a $15.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build the plant in North Las Vegas. …