(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., today rejected the suggestion that he call on embattled U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., to resign because of an ongoing ethics investigation.
In an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, host Sam Shad said national and state Republican Party leaders have been criticized by Nevada political consultant Chuck Muth for failing to call for Ensign’s resignation.
“Will you call for Sen. John Ensign to resign?” Shad asked Heller.
“Not on this show,” Heller said. “I’m not going to call today for his resignation. Because John Ensign’s problems are John Ensign’s problems. They are not my problems. My job is to worry about the economy.”
But Heller said he stands by his criticisms of Ensign.
“I think John needs to be more forthcoming on the issues at hand,” he said. “He needs to come in front of the press, come on this show, and talk to you about the issues that are in front of him, and I think that has caused a lot of his problems.
“If John Ensign’s issues impact me politically then yes, I take exception to it,” Heller said.
Asked if Ensign’s political weakness is harming Nevada and the GOP, Heller agreed that the ethics inquiry is taking up much of his time and that Nevada needs a stronger voice in Washington.
“But if you are asking me to come on this show to ask for his resignation I’m not going to do that,” he said.
Heller agreed that having a “wounded junior senator” is cause for concern.
“But what that entails down the road, I don’t really know,” he said.
In the interview, Heller said the No. 1 topic on the minds of Nevadans is the economy and jobs, not health care.
“They are over 19 percent unemployment right now in Lyon County,” he said. “You put a couple of more points on that and you are at depression stages.”
Heller said he voted against the jobs bill recently passed by Congress because the measure contained a tax increase.
“You can’t grow government and create jobs at the same time,” he said. “You can’t raise taxes and create jobs at the same time.”
“Washington needs to get out of the way,” Heller said.
One way Congress could respond to the nation’s economic crisis is by lowering taxes, he said.
“I’d start with the corporate income tax,” Heller said.
But employers aren’t hiring because there is no stability coming from Congress, he said.
“I think there is a way to bring stability back to the process,” Heller said. “And that is to not have single control by one party of both houses and the presidency. And I don’t care if it is Republicans or Democrats.”
(Disclosure: Chuck Muth is President and CEO of Citizen Outreach, which provides funding for the Nevada News Bureau)