The Scorecard For Conservatives
Accountability only exists when you have transparency and principles. We, and our colleagues at The Heritage Foundation, clearly articulate conservative principles. Our legislative scorecard shows how Members of Congress live up to those principles.
And it works: one influential publication called it “the scorecard for conservatives.”
All too often, lawmakers tend to talk one way back home and vote another way inside Washington. The hundreds of bills and many more amendments Congress deals with every year make it tough to see through the spin and know how Members of Congress really vote.
Our legislative scorecard does just that. And lawmakers are paying attention. One publication covering Congress described our scorecard as “the hugely influential cheat sheet for determining conservative bona fides in Congress.”
Journalists are not alone. Conservatives across the country use our scorecard to talk to their Members of Congress about the votes they cast. Not surprisingly, lawmakers and their staffs ask our government relations team what bills and amendments we plan to score, and also lobby us to consider putting their bill on our scorecard.
Deciding what votes and bills make the scorecard isn’t easy, in part because our scorecard encompasses the full spectrum of conservatism on policy issues large and small. And the decision is made only after careful consideration and how the issue relates to The Heritage Foundation’s conservative policy positions.
In describing our methodology, another news organization said Heritage Action’s scorecard “uses one of the most stringent and specific ranking formulas.” The results are revealing, which allows constituents to see who fights to advance freedom on every vote, no matter how small.
Michael A. Needham
Chief Executive Officer
Heritage Action for America
While Members of Congress are arguing about defunding parts of Obamacare, the rubber is meeting the road in the states. Governors and state legislatures are sweating decisions about setting up government health care exchanges and expanding the Medicaid program.
While the offer of additional federal money for Medicaid is tempting for many governors and legislatures, it is a trap. And it is just one of the reasons Obamacare doesn’t work.
The Medicaid expansion is a crucial part of Obamacare that is supposed reduce the number of uninsured. But adding millions of people onto an already strained program doesn’t help anyone. The Medicaid program is already struggling to provide care to its core obligations—a diverse group of low-income children, disabled people, pregnant women, and seniors. So dumping more people into the program will make matters worse. Research shows that Medicaid enrollees already have worse access and outcomes than privately insured individuals.
This will have real effects on America’s needy, including children. Dr. Hal Scherz has seen the problems Medicaid creates firsthand. He practices in the only pediatric urology group in the state of Georgia, and more than half of his practice is made up of Medicaid patients.
But Medicaid already doesn’t cover the costs of many procedures, and expanding the program is only going to stretch the doctors’ even further—while they get paid less. It is unlikely that care providers like Dr. Scherz will be able to keep treating such high numbers of Medicaid patients under this scenario—which means less access to care for children who need it.
Thankfully, Georgia is not expanding Medicaid right now. But that doesn’t mean Medicaid is doing well, even in states that aren’t expanding. Due in part to low reimbursement, one in three doctors already refuses to accept new Medicaid patients.
Medicaid is a problem for patients—and it’s also a major problem for states that are struggling financially. As Heritage’s Nina Owcharenko explains:
Today, Medicaid consumes over 23 percent of state budgets, surpassing education as the largest state budget item. As Medicaid spending continues to rise, other important state priorities such as education, emergency services, transportation, and criminal justice are squeezed.
In fact, 40 out of the 50 states are projected to see higher costs—not savings—from expanding Medicaid.
Medicaid needs serious reforms to serve the people it was intended to serve. Expanding it under Obamacare is not the answer.
With bipartisan passage of the No Budget, No Pay Act in the House, the American people continue to turn their attention toward the Democratic-controlled Senate and their nearly four-year failure to pass a budget.
Watch and share the House Republican Conference’s new video, Earning It, which keeps the pressure on Senate Democrats to do their job.
It’s simple: no budget, no pay.
Members of Congress Avoid Mentioning That They’re Already Members on Congress in Ads
In a sign of the increasing disapproval of how Washington has been operating in recent years, the New York Times reports that some members of Congress are “running as outsiders,” avoiding mentions of the fact they’re incumbents running for re-election. Nevada Representative Joe Heck focuses on his career as a physician in one ad, and Representative Dan Benishek, also a physician, also focuses on his career in medicine in his ad—but neither mention that they’re actually current members of Congress. While “bragging about one’s voting record used to be a staple of political advertising,” it seems most sitting Congressmen don’t have much to brag about. Even President Obama – despite running in 2008 on the promise to change Washington, and after nearly four years in office – recently said in an interview with Univision, “You can’t change Washington from the inside.”
A quick look at what Washington has been doing recently sheds some light on why members want to distance themselves from their record in office:
Punting Tough Decisions: Last Saturday around 1 a.m., Congress passed a last-minute stopgap spending measure to continue government funding and avoid a shutdown—just before leaving town and punting more major decisions regarding budgeting and taxes into the lame-duck session.
A Skyrocketing National Debt: Earlier this month, the national debt surpassed the $16 trillion mark, an all-time high that adds up to more than $50,900 for every man, woman and child.
The Best Washington Can Do Is The Worst-Case-Scenario: Thanks to the bipartisan Super-Committee’s failure last year to outline trillions in federal spending cuts over the next 10 years, the U.S. now faces $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, which will affect both domestic and defense programs. To make things worse, the spending cuts are scheduled to coincide with a tax hike, creating a situation now known as the “fiscal cliff,” which could plunge the economy back into recession.
For the second year in a row, seven-term Congresswoman Berkley was named one of Washington D.C.’s “Most Corrupt” Members of Congress by the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Shelley Berkley Was Named D.C.’s “Most Corrupt” Two Years in a Row
For the second year in a row, seven-term Congresswoman Berkley was named one of Washington D.C.’s “Most Corrupt” Members of Congress by the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The fourteen-year Congresswoman is the only Senate candidate in the country under investigation and two-time winner of CREW’s “dishonorable mention.”
The CREW shows how Shelley Berkley has used her office for personal gain at a time when Nevada was suffering from one of the deepest recessions in history. According to the CREW report, “Shelley Berkley has spent a career advocating for renal care physicians, in spite of an obvious conflict of interest created by her husband’s medical practice.”
“Rep. Berkley has repeatedly intervened to stop proposed cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates for nephrologists while taking thousands in campaign contributions from the renal physicians’ main political action committee, of which her husband is a former chairman,” the report continued.
You can read the entire report here.
“Apparently it’s not enough for Shelley Berkley to just be one of the richest Members of Congress. Two years in a row, fourteen-year Congresswoman Shelley Berkley has been named one of the ‘Most Corrupt’ Members of Congress for using her office for personal gain at a time when Nevada was suffering from one of the deepest recessions in its history. Even her own colleagues are suspicious of her behavior, which is why ten of them unanimously decided to investigate her. It’s clear that Shelley Berkley has one priority, and that’s herself,” said Chandler Smith, Heller for Senate spokeswoman.
1) Fact: For two years in a row, Shelley Berkley has been named one of the most corrupt Members of Congress.
CREW’s Most Corrupt 2012
“Rep. Shelley Berkley has spent a career advocating for renal care physicians, in spite of an obvious conflict of interest created by her husband’s medical practice…”
(“Most Corrupt,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 2012)
CREW’s Most Corrupt 2011
REPRESENTATIVE SHELLEY BERKLEY
“Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV) is a seven-term member of Congress, representing Nevada’s 1st congressional district. Rep. Berkley’s ethics issues stem from using her position to support her husband’s financial and professional interests.”
(“CREW’s Most Corrupt,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 2011)
2) Fact: Now her colleagues have voted unanimously to launch a congressional investigation into her misconduct.
Documentation: “The House Ethics Committee said today it will investigate whether Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) broke any ethics rules or laws when she intervened to save a kidney transplant program at a hospital where her physician husband had a lucrative contract. In a statement, Ethics Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and ranking member Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said the committee voted unanimously on June 29 to establish an investigative subcommittee to determine whether Berkley violated “any law, rule, regulation, or other applicable standard of conduct … with respect to alleged communications and activities with or on behalf of entities in which Representative Berkley’s husband had a financial interest.”
(Amanda Becker, “House Ethics Will Probe Shelley Berkley’s Role in Saving Transplant Program,” Roll Call, July 9, 2012)
3) Fact: Because she used her office to twist arms in Washington to help her husband’s business.
Documentation: “Ms. Berkley’s actions were among a series over the last five years in which she pushed legislation or twisted the arms of federal regulators to pursue an agenda that is aligned with the business interests of her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner.”
(Eric Lipton, “A Congresswoman’s Cause Is Often Her Husband’s Gain,” New York Times, September 5, 2011)
4) Fact: A business that has made her one of the richest Members of Congress.
Documentation: “35. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) $9.17 Million”
(Amanda Becker, “The 50 Richest Members of the 112th Congress (2012)” Roll Call, September 13, 2012)
Documentation: “Shelley Berkley is a dialysis magnate. Berkley’s wealth is mostly found in investment accounts, and the various buildings and companies related to her husband’s medical practice.”
(Karoun Demirjian, “Our Congressional Leaders: What They’re Worth and Where They Invest,” Las Vegas Sun, June 16, 2011)
(Las Vegas, NV) – For the second year in a row, seven-term Congresswoman Berkley has been named one of Washington D.C.’s “Most Corrupt” Members of Congress. She is the only Senate candidate in the country under investigation and today marks the second time that the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) awarded Shelley Berkley a “dishonorable mention” for using her elected office for financial gain.
“Two years in a row, fourteen-year Congresswoman Shelley Berkley has been named one of the ‘Most Corrupt’ Members of Congress for using her office for personal gain at a time when Nevada was suffering from one of the deepest recessions in its history. Apparently it’s not enough for Shelley Berkley to just be one of the richest Members of Congress. Even her own colleagues agree with this watchdog group, which is why ten of them unanimously decided to investigate her. It’s clear that Shelley Berkley has one priority, and that’s herself,” said Chandler Smith, Heller for Senate spokeswoman.
According to CREW’s report, “Shelley Berkley has spent a career advocating for renal care physicians, in spite of an obvious conflict of interest created by her husband’s medical practice.”
“Rep. Berkley has repeatedly intervened to stop proposed cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates for nephrologists while taking thousands in campaign contributions from the renal physicians’ main political action committee, of which her husband is a former chairman.”
Here’s what CREW’s Executive Director Melanie Sloan has to say:
- “While it is understandable why a Nevada congresswoman would fight to save the only kidney transplant center in her state, Rep. Berkley should have been clear about her husband’s position at the hospital…Unfortunately, Rep. Berkley doesn’t seem to see the conflict.”
- Shelley’s Berkley’s actions are “part of an all-too-familiar trend of legislators using their positions to benefit family members.”
- “Americans expect their elected leaders to be working for the public interest, not their own personal interests.” (Jon Ralston, “Head of ethics watchdog group lets @RepBerkley have it on ethics, “September 12, 2012)
Ethics issues have plagued Congresswoman Berkley, most recently when the five Democrats and five Republicans that comprise the House Ethics Committee unanimously decided to investigate allegations that Congresswoman Berkley used her office to advance health policies that benefited her husband.
This was the first time the House Ethics Committee created an investigative subcommittee on the basis of a non-partisan Office of Congressional Ethics report since 2009.
I want to take a moment to update you on a very important piece of legislation that I am bringing to a vote tomorrow.
Last week the Senate passed its version of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or what is more commonly referred to as the STOCK Act. This legislation will prohibit members of Congress from profiting from insider knowledge that they gain in the course of carrying out their duties. However, I believe we should be doing more.
I will bring the House version of this legislation up for a vote tomorrow and it will be even stronger than the Senate measure. There are several areas where we will accomplish that.
- The bill will be expanded to also include members of the Executive Branch and their staffs.
- Any member of Congress convicted of a felony will lose their federal pension.
- Lawmakers will be restricted from unfair access to Initial Public Offerings.
- Lawmakers must disclose any trade of $1,000 or more.
I look forward to seeing this important legislation passed tomorrow and trust that the Senate will concur with our more stringent version. Then, with the President’s signature, we will have a Congress that is more accountable to you.
I have always believed it is extremely important that members of Congress are held to the strictest ethical standards possible, and this is a step toward that goal.
Thank you for your support, and as always, I appreciate your opinions and feedback on this or any issue we are facing.
Member of Congress
“The Pentagon has clearly overstepped its bounds by declaring military chaplains can perform same-sex marriages. As part of the federal government, the Defense Department must abide by federal law including the Defense of Marriage Act, which permits marriage only between one man and one woman. The Defense of Marriage Act was passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) deep concern that the Obama Administration’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be a back door to nationalizing same-sex marriage is now confirmed. Voters in 31 out of 31 states, including liberal states such as California, Maine, Oregon and Hawaii have voted to keep marriage between one man and one woman. Members of Congress need to take swift action to defend federal law, uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and keep traditional marriage sacred in this country in spite of the Obama administration’s political pandering and social engineering.”
I believe Rep. Shelley Berkley should have made the list but speaks volumes that she was mentioned dishonorably, by CREW, a lefty organization that takes money from George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
From the Hill.com:
Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) earned a “dishonorable mention” on Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington’s annual “most corrupt members of Congress” list, a fact that could hurt her Senate campaign against Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
CREW, a left-leaning group that monitors collusion of money in politics, did not include her in its top 14 “most corrupt” list, but added her to the secondary category. This comes after the New York Times ran a front-page story that questioned whether she had improperly helped her husband, who is a kidney surgeon.
“The line between political cause and personal financial gain is fuzzy for Rep. Shelley Berkley,” the report says. “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.”
Like I said previously… my hope is there will be more investigation in to Rep. Shelley Berkley dealing.