Nevada Democrats file ethics complaint against Heller
The Nevada State Democratic Party has filed another ethics complaint against Republican Sen. Dean Heller, accusing the incumbent senator’s campaign of inappropriately copy-and-pasting press releases from his Senate office.
In a letter sent Tuesday to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, the state party claimed that Heller’s “continued use of official resources for political purposes” violated Senate ethics rules and should prompt an investigation.
The complaint notes the similarities between a Dec. 14, 2017 press release sent out by Heller’s Senate office celebrating Heller’s vote to confirm James Ho as a circuit court judge as the 12th confirmed judge nominated by President Donald Trump and approved by the Senate during his first year in office, and a similar Medium post published by the campaign on the same day.
The complaint said that the copying of paragraphs wholesale from Heller’s official Senate office to campaign press releases was a “clear violation” of Senate rules prohibiting official Senate staff time, resources and equipment from being used to assist or help a campaign. It also included two additional examples of Heller’s official Senate press releases being heavily sampled in Medium posts by the campaign.
The complaint also noted a fundraising email linking the urgency of confirming judicial nominees and asking for campaign contributions, which the complaint said was “in direct violation of the federal law prohibiting bribery and illegal gratuities.”
“Sen. Heller is blatantly violating federal law and Senate ethics rules by using official resources and taxpayer-funded staff to further his political goals and inappropriately solicit campaign cash,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy II said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Heller’s Senate office didn’t return an email seeking comment late Wednesday.
The party filed a similar complaint against Heller to the ethics committee in October 2017, accusing him of using his position on the Senate banking committee to solicit donations for his reelection effort. No action has been taken yet on that complaint.
The Senate ethics committee, which is chaired by Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, is composed of three Democrats and three Republicans and works in strict confidentiality.