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      Pro-Israel Lawmaker Shelley Berkley Facing Ethics Charges

      The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, an ardent supporter of Israel in Congress.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 7/11/2012, 5:51 PM

      White House
      White House
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      The House Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into US Representative Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), an ardent supporter of Israel in Congress. The investigation may complicate her bid for a seat in the US Senate.

      Berkley has been widely seen as a formidable threat to the future of Republican incumbent Sen. Dean Heller.

      The investigation, backed unanimously by Democrats and Republicans on the committee, will focus on allegations that Berkley's championing of kidney care benefited the interests of her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, a leading kidney specialist in Nevada.

      Over the last five years, Berkley allegedly pushed legislation in an effort to pursue an agenda that is aligned with the business interests of her husband.

      "The Committee noted that the mere fact of establishing an investigative subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred," said a statement from the Ethics Committee of the House of Representatives.

      Berkley's office said she was "pleased with the committee’s decision to conduct a full and fair investigation, which will ensure all the facts are reviewed."

      Commentary Magazine's Jonathan Tobin writes that, “Any opportunity to knock off a GOP incumbent is a matter of life for the Democrats’ hopes of keeping at least half of Congress in their possession. That has made the battle for Nevada’s Senate seat one of the most watched races in the country, especially because challenger Rep. Shelley Berkley has been widely seen as a formidable threat to the future of Republican incumbent Dean Heller.”

      While Berkley and her husband may have profited from her actions, “there was no criminal conspiracy or criminal intent,” Tobin writes.

      “Those eager to make political hay about this should remember that being the champion of doctors who serve kidney patients in need is not quite the same thing as throwing your weight around on behalf of some oil contractor or other special interest,” he adds.