Berkley’s Betrayal

Democrat Congresswoman votes against jobs bill she co-sponsored to placate Green lobby

July 2, 2012

Democratic Nevada congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Shelley Berkley voted against a job-creating land privatization bill that she herself co-sponsored, the latest in a string of examples of Berkley’s placing national Democratic Party interests ahead of her state’s.

The Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act would "mandate the fair market sale of approximately 10,400 acres of public lands to the City of Yerington and Lyon County for economic, recreational and cultural development," according to the Nevada News Bureau. It is projected to lead to 500 construction jobs by 2013 and nearly 800 total jobs at the project site by 2015-2016, according to a statement by Berkley’s Republican Senate opponent, incumbent Sen. Dean Heller.

The unemployment rate in Lyon County, Nevada—where Yerington is located—stands at 15.1 percent.

Under pressure from Democratic special interest group The League of Conservation Voters, however, Berkley pulled her support for the bill.

League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski sent a letter to Berkley on June 18 urging her to vote against the legislation.

"LCV urges you to vote NO on H.R. 2578, the so-called Conservation and Economic Growth Act, an over-reaching assault on America’s lands and wildlife that blocks or rolls back conservation laws on federal lands, guts environmental review, and privatizes public lands," Karpinski wrote.

Berkley released a statement after the vote June 19 stating, "I am a strong supporter and original co-sponsor of the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act, authored by my Nevada colleague, Representative Mark Amodei. It is extremely unfortunate the House did not have the opportunity to vote on this important job-creating measure except as part of a larger legislative package that has no chance of passing in the Senate and faces strong opposition in Nevada."

The bill was "beloved by Nevada lawmakers," according to the Las Vegas Sun.

The bill was incorporated into the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, which "rolled 14 bills into one" legislative package; the bill passed in the Republican-controlled House June 19 by a 232-188 vote. Sixteen House Democrats voted in favor of the Act.

Berkley joined the majority of her party in voting against the measure in the House.

Berkley’s statement does not definitively announce that she voted against the measure, and leaves out an important piece of context involving an environmental group with close ties to Democratic House leadership, Nevada political insiders pointed out to the Free Beacon.

Karpinski introduced Democratic House Minority Leader and then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at a 2007 League of Conservation Voters’ dinner on global warming in Washington, D.C.

"I come here tonight grateful for the powerful advocacy of the League of Conservation Voters in the fight to preserve our planet for future generations. I think it is appropriate to cite a Native American saying that, ‘The real owners of the land are not yet born,’" Pelosi said in her remarks at that event.

The League of Conservation Voters spent $160,000 lobbying on environmental legislation in 2011.

"Shelley Berkley needs to explain why she sided with environmental groups over northern Nevada," Heller for Senate spokeswoman Chandler Smith said in a statement. "Instead of supporting legislation that would have created jobs in Yerington, she chose to side with the League of Conservation Voters. This is typical Shelley Berkley, saying one thing and then doing another."

Las Vegas businessman Steve Wynn—a onetime Berkley supporter—told Fox News host Neil Cavuto in 2011 that Berkley voted for Obamacare because House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi would "punish" her if she voted against it.

According to Wynn, Berkley told him in a phone call, "Steve, I know it’s terrible. My husband is a doctor. He hates it, too. But if I don’t vote for it, she will punish me."

Wynn continued, "‘She’ being Nancy Pelosi. I said, ‘Shelley, every politician that’s ever sold out their constituency has had a lame, terrible rationalization like the one you just gave me. Don’t ever call me again.’"

"[Wynn’s] recollection of the conversation is different than the congresswoman's," said a Berkeley spokeswoman at the time.

Berkley voted for Obamacare and attended the law’s signing ceremony at the White House.

Berkley’s Nevada office did not return a call for comment.