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Heller named ‘porker of the month’ by D.C. watchdog group

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Leila Navidi

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. talks to the media after his victory at the Palazzo in Las Vegas after midnight on Wednesday, November 7, 2012.

Updated Wednesday, June 26, 2013 | 12:31 p.m.

A Washington-based watchdog group today named Sen. Dean Heller its "porker of the month" for supporting a provision in the immigration bill that would ensure continued federal funding for a tourism promotion agency.

The group, Citizens Against Government Waste, accused Heller of hinging his support for immigration reform on the provision that would direct up to $100 million a year to Brand USA beyond the 2015 cutoff written in the original version of the measure. The federal money is used as match for private dollars raised by the organization that promotes travel to destinations across the country.

Today on the Senate floor, Heller publicly declared he will support the overall immigration reform bill, after a key border security amendment was passed earlier this week.

Heller's spokeswoman Chandler Smith disputed the basis of the designation.

"Again, facts get in the way of a special interest agenda," Smith said. "This provision was included in the underlying bill and not the amendment. While Senator Heller supports the measure, he never had one conversation with any Senator about including this in the immigration bill. In fact, he would have preferred for this to have been handled with stand-alone legislation.”

In its press release, the group erroneously claimed Heller was responsible for the language change in the original bill, which was changed by the Judiciary Committee, on which Heller does not sit.

The watchdog group also criticized Heller for introducing an amendment that would give Nevada a seat on the Southern Border Security Commission, arguing the Silver State shouldn't be granted represented on the panel because it's not on the Mexican border.

"For attempting to force taxpayers to gamble on Sin City’s advertisements, and for trying to re-draw the border far from Mexico, Sen. Dean Heller is CAGW’s June 2013 Porker of the Month," the group said in a press release.

The group describes the "porker of the month" as "a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

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