Saturday, June 9, 2012 | 1:49 p.m.
In some of her first public comments on the matter, U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said today her campaign for U.S Senate will “not pivot” on a House ethics committee investigation into whether she used her public office to benefit her family's financial interests.
Berkley declined to speculate on the outcome of the investigation—the committee is expected to announce in July whether it will move forward with the probe.
But she said she was motivated by protecting patient care when she joined with then Reps. Dean Heller and Jon Porter to lobby to keep the kidney transplant center open at University Medical Center in 2008.
Her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner is a kidney doctor whose medical firm provides kidney care at UMC.
“I know what the three of us did to protect patient care,” Berkley said of Heller and Porter. “I know what happened.”
Berkley wrote a letter, also signed by Porter and Heller, to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services petitioning it to keep the transplant center open. If it had closed, Berkley said Las Vegas kidney patients would have been forced to travel to California for transplants.
“I think it was the right thing to do to work together to keep that center open,” she said. “My only concern was patient care in Nevada. I wasn’t thinking of myself.”
At the time, Lehrner’s firm had a $738,000 contract with the medical center to provide kidney care. In a brief interview at the Democratic state convention, Berkley also reacted to President Obama's comments this week that the "private sector is doing fine." "Particularly in states like Nevada, we are going through very very tough times," Berkley said. "We've made progress, but we have a long way to go."