More Heller, GOP jabs on Berkley ethics


Republicans continue to hammer Shelley Berkley with two new commercials on the air today that seek to keep alive questions about the Democratic congresswoman's ethics.

In its latest ad, the Crossroads GPS superPAC casts a harsh light on the Senate candidate's  friendship with Donald Davidson, a Las Vegas real estate consultant who was convicted in 2007 of trying to bribe then-Las Vegas city councilman Michael McDonald on zoning matters.

Berkley was among 41 people who wrote letters to U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in January 2008 seeking leniency for Davidson in advance of his sentencing.   Davidson, then 73, drew a two-year prison term, which he has since served.

In its ad, Crossroads said Berkley in the letter "begs a judge to go easy on her big campaign donor." In fact, Davidson made two donations to Berkley in 2003, totalling $750, according to federal records.  She received more money from 340 Nevadans during that cycle.

Davidson was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud.  A jury deadlocked on 18 other counts tied to alleged Davidson attempts to bribe former county commissioner Erin Kenny.

In her letter to Hunt, Berkley said she had known Davidson for many years.

"As you can imagine, this is a difficult letter for me to send, given the nature of the charges that have led to Mr. Davidson's convictions," Berkley wrote according to a news account from that time.

"I believe Mr. Davidson is a good man who behaved badly and I am certain he is extremely remorseful for his activities. His actions were wrong, but he is not a bad person," Berkley wrote.

The Crossroads commercial also recycles ethics allegations on Berkley's lobbying for kidney doctors and the University Medical Center kidney program that have prompted an investigation by the House ethics committee.

It also replays Berkley's ethics run-in from 1996 when she worked as a corporate lawyer at the Las Vegas Sands.

Republican incumbent Dean Heller echoes the accusations in his latest commercial that concludes Berkley has "a history of public corruption."

Berkley's campaign accused the Republicans of exaggerating on ethics while trying to disguise Heller's weakness on policy issues and his support for what Democrats charge is a dangerous Medicare restructuring.

"Another day, another over-the-top attack ad from Senator Dean Heller and George W. Bush’s political hit man Karl Rove  -- this time an attempt to distract from the fact that Heller's plan to essentially end Medicare is getting national attention after Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, the proposal's architect, as his running mate," said Berkley spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa.

Rove, formerly Bush's chief political adviser, is among the founders of American Crossroads, a leading backer of Mitt Romney and down-ticket Republican candidates.