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November 16, 2018

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Reports don’t always match rhetoric in Heller-Rosen race

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Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., talk before a Memorial Day ceremony in Boulder City, Monday, May 28, 2018. They will now battle for Heller’s Senate seat in the general election.

Attacks and promises are flying fast in the hotly contested race for Nevada's Senate seat. But the two candidates' financial disclosure forms show they don't always put their money where their mouths are.

Republican Sen. Dean Heller blasts his Democratic challenger by saying she would turn the state into an expensive liberal stronghold like California, but records show his wife owns a coastal home there and has significant investments in the Golden State.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Jacky Rosen is pledging to be a champion for green energy, but her portfolio shows she owns at least $130,000 in oil, gas and mining company stocks.

Both camps say the money details don't undercut their core values. Heller spokesman Keith Schipper says the senator is committed to Nevada and has "consistently fought for and delivered time and again" for the state.

Rosen's camp, meanwhile, says she's been "a consistent champion for policies supporting clean energy and climate action."

Still, a public watchdog group said the financial disclosures allow voters to judge candidates on their interests instead of just rhetoric.

Disclosures allow voters to judge candidates not just on where they say their interests lie, but where their personal, financial interests actually lie, said Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

"This is the entire reason, or just a major reason, why we have financial disclosures and why they're so important," he said. "Rhetoric is one thing and facts are another."

Heller, for example, has warned in campaign statements and tweets that "Nevada could be just like California," and "could become beachfront property."

But his personal financial disclosures include his wife's ownership of a home in a coastal community near Los Angeles and more than 30 municipal bonds earning at least $62,000 in income last year.

The investments, divided between two family trusts in which his wife is an owner, include more than 30 bonds for California municipalities worth between $1.7 million and $3.9 million. They generated between about $62,000 and $137,000 in income last year, according to Heller's annual report filed in May.

The home is where Heller's father-in-law lives and is in a trust held by his children, according to Heller's campaign.

His Democratic challenger, on the other hand, has been a champion of environmentalist causes.

In March, she said, "Our state deserves a Senator we can count on to always stand up for meaningful action on climate change and advocate for our clean energy economy, and I will be that champion for Nevadans."

She made similar comments last summer when criticizing the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

But on her most recent annual financial disclosure form, filed in May, Rosen listed investments worth between about $135,000 and $363,000 in oil, gas and mining companies.

That includes between $50,001 and $100,000 in oil refiner Valero Energy and smaller investments in companies like Anadarko Petroleum, mining company Southern Copper Corporation and pipeline company Enbridge Inc. One of Enbridge's current projects to carry Canadian tar sands oil across several U.S. states has drawn intense opposition from American Indian tribes and climate change activists.

The investments are in a family trust in Rosen and her husband's name.

She also reported her husband's retirement account has $50,001 to $100,000 in a fund that invests in energy companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

An environmental group that endorsed Rosen said "what matters most is how these candidates have and will vote on key environmental issues."

Sara Chieffo with the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund said Rosen has an impressive voting record on environmental issues while Heller's record is abysmal and "he has rubber-stamped the Trump administration's assault on protections for our air, water, and health."