Heller‘s son paid $52,000 by campaign for social media work

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

In this Aug. 22, 2017, photo, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., speaks at the 21st Annual Lake Tahoe Summit in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Published Friday, May 18, 2018 | 1:51 p.m.

Updated Friday, May 18, 2018 | 4:04 p.m.

RENO — U.S. Sen. Dean Heller‘s campaign paid the Nevada Republican‘s son at least $52,500 over the past two years, according to a review of campaign finance records by the Reno Gazette Journal.

Harrison‘s Heller, 29, has no other employees at his Utah-based music recording business Heller Enterprises LLC, and the company has not been listed as a paid vendor for any other federal election campaign, the newspaper reported Friday.

Heller‘s campaign said in a statement that the senator‘s son “produces quality content at a cheap discount” and creates social and digital media for Fortune 500 companies.

The younger Heller and his singer wife also document their lives in video blogs on You Tube and have appeared in advertisements for Gap and HP Inc.

Harrison Heller said in an email that his campaign work includes creating content for Instagram, taking hundreds of photos and shooting hundreds of hours of video.

“My father is my role model,” he said. “He has done amazing work for Nevada and it is an honor to be a part of telling his story.”

Campaign spokesman Keith Schipper said Harrison Heller was paid a $2,500 monthly retainer for his services.

It‘s common for candidates to hire family members, but federal law bars candidates from overpaying members for campaign services and critics say the practice can appear to be self-dealing.

“Unfortunately, as a matter of policy, it doesn‘t look unusual,” Meredith McGehee, executive director of campaign finance watchdog Issue One, said. “I say unfortunately because it lends itself, certainly, to the appearance that there is self-enrichment going on.

Campaign finance reports show Heller‘s campaign has hired two other companies to help with social media.

Las Vegas-based Tagged Digital, which is affiliated with a Heller campaign staffer and digital messaging strategist who has worked on several campaigns, was hired in July 2016 and paid a little more than $19,000 for social media consulting.

San Diego-based Bask Digital Media, a six-person team that builds campaign websites, online ads and email campaigns, was hired in May 2017 and paid $54,000 for social and digital media consulting.