Ethics is what ethics does

Here’s the quote of the political day, courtesy of Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-NV, who now faces a formal House ethics investigation for her role in twisting arms and lobbying for things that either directly or indirectly aligned with her and her husband’s financial interests:

"I’m sure at the end of the investigation, there won’t be any doubt the only thing I was interested in was the health and well-being of the people I represent."

Please, Shelley. That’s exactly the one thing that will always be in doubt. Motivation can never be known for certain. That requires mind-reading. A faith in things invisible. All the House inquirers can do is examine the deeds of Rep. Berkley and determine whether they fall within or without the proper defined behavior of House rules.

You can catch up on the words and deeds of Rep. Berkley in this story from Steve Tetreault of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In a nutshell:

"Berkley has disputed allegations that have been made public about her advocacy on kidney health issues that intersected with the interests of Lehrner, a prominent Las Vegas nephrologist.

"A New York Times investigation in September that provided the basis for an ethics complaint filed by Nevada Republicans reported that she ‘pushed legislation or twisted the arms of federal regulators to pursue an agenda aligned’ with Lehrner’s business interests that expanded over the past decade in Southern Nevada."

No one can ever know why Rep. Berkley did what she did. All we can know is that she did them. And in the case of advocacy on kidney health issues in Southern Nevada, everything she did directly or indirectly lined her pocketbook. And she did all these things without disclosing her conflict of interest.

Simply because her advocacy also helped others, allegedly, doesn’t erase the ethical lines she may have crossed. And, who is to say what else Rep. Berkley did within the Washington bureaucracy to help her own interests? Washington is filled with behind-the-scenes stuff that a congressman can influence to his or her benefit, unseen by the public.

That’s why the House decided to conduct a formal investigation, ladies and gentlemen. The House sees something in the preliminary Berkley report that demands closer examination. A pattern of behavior, perhaps. Or, specific detail that just doesn’t smell right.

Forget the spin of Berkley and others. That is the truth.

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