This election year we have seen more and more political flyers and mailers and ads than in past years. Can you trust the information on a political mailer? Well, the commonsense answer is “No”!
We chose to look at one particular political mailer for a candidate right here in Columbia. This Candidate is running for State House Representative of District 78 (Richland County), Beth Bernstein (Democrat).
One of the first things we noticed about this particular mailer is the front. Bernstein claims to be “One of Us, Working For Us”.
Bernstein is a Attorney/Legislator who is a partner at her families Law practice on Assembly Street. Our first question regarding this statement is who is “US”? Bernstein’s District covers the majority of the Fort Jackson area.
Yet, Bernstein has not ever served in any military position, and the outlining areas are either retired military or low to middle class income. So, once again we ask who is “US”? Having spoken with several residents in District 78 and asking them if they have ever seen or spoken with Bernstein, all of them stated “no”. One resident informed us that he called up to her office once but was given the runaround and he finally gave up. He stated it was a matter concerning a veteran friend of his who needed assistance.
The second part of this mailer we noticed is Bernstein stated, “I love and cherish this community and always will be an advocate for our neighborhoods and schools.” On the State Legislative Website Bernstein has her home address listed as 1910 Assembly Street, which is the office of her families law firm. We can understand why a legislator would not want to give out their personal home address. But as we looked at other legislators they at least provided a P.O. BOX address listed within their districts.
This issue may seem a small thing to some, but it raises the issue of Bernstein’s comments as far as community.
Now lets look at the back of the Mailer. As most mailers the first thing you see is a very small bio section called “About Beth”.
In this section we noticed a statement, “As a state representative, she’s made it her mission to avoid reckless partisan politics, and instead focuses on common sense plans which make a difference for our families.”
So lets look at Rep. Bernstein’s history of bills she, herself has sponsored:
H3406 – A JOINT RESOLUTION PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO SECTION 12, ARTICLE III OF THE CONSTITUTION OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1895, RELATING TO PUNISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE SUPERVISION OF ETHICAL CONDUCT BY MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, INCLUDING THE AUTHORITY TO DISCIPLINE MEMBERS, IS VESTED IN THE STATE AGENCY CHARGED BY LAW WITH INVESTIGATING, ENFORCING, AND ADJUDICATING ALLEGATIONS OF ETHICAL MISCONDUCT.
This bill was designed to allow the State Agency (the Ethics Committee) to govern itself on these issues of ethical misconduct by legislators.
H3328 – A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING ARTICLE 2 TO CHAPTER 31, TITLE 23 ENTITLED “FIREARMS CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS” SO AS TO REQUIRE A TWENTY-EIGHT DAY WAITING PERIOD FOR PURCHASERS OR TRANSFEREES OF FIREARMS UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS.
This bill sought to extend the waiting period for a citizen to purchase and own a firearm, many considered this bill an anti 2nd Amendment bill. The previous year Rep. Bernstein sponsored a similar bill to extend the waiting period to 14 days.
H4855 – A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 56-5-3910 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR A PERSON TO SMOKE A TOBACCO PRODUCT IN A MOTOR VEHICLE IN WHICH A MINOR IS A PASSENGER AND TO PROVIDE A PENALTY.
Many people felt this bill crossed a line allowing government to control an individual in their own private residents and property.
H5137 – Family leave; provide twelve weeks of paid leave for state employees due to birth, adoption or foster care of child
A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 8-11-150 SO AS TO PROVIDE TWELVE WEEKS OF PAID FAMILY LEAVE FOR STATE EMPLOYEES DUE TO THE BIRTH, ADOPTION, OR FOSTER CARE OF A SON OR DAUGHTER.
This bill had many co-sponsors but some believed that it should have been worded not simply in support of State Employees who became new parents. This bill singled out State employees from the rest of South Carolina citizens.
In her entire Political career at the State House Rep. Bernstein has sponsored more recognition bills than bills to actually improve anything in South Carolina. Her entire sponsorship of bills can be found here.
Rep. Bernstein did vote against the Fetal Heartbeat Protection from Abortion Act, which would have protect a fetuses rights once a heartbeat was detected.
Her entire voting record on State Legislation can be found here.
On the next section of the mailer you find “Working Across Party Lines“, here we find that the first sentence is misleading in nearly every aspect when you look at her voting record and her sponsorship records above. Rep. Bernstein openly blocked H3295 a Shared Parenting Bill that would have protected children’s rights to both loving and fit parents during and after a divorce or custody battle. This bill would have also required that the Family Courts institute a “rebuttable presumption” that this is in the best interest of a child. It would have prevented children from having psychological trauma from losing a loving parent from their life. Bernstein refused to have this bill come to committee to be heard and voted on. We have to remember here that Bernstein is also at this point an attorney who’s bread and butter is made by billable hours in the court rooms.
She goes on to cite her roles as the Subcommittee chair on the House Judiciary Committee, which has come under serious question this past year. And her position on the House Ethics Committee, the Speaker of the House appointing her to serve on the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children. But what isn’t mentioned is that the Speaker is also an Attorney and it seemed more of a favor for a favor appointment.
Last this mailer points out her recognitions. The first is the Green Tie award and award that is based on how many bills you sponsor for conservation in the State House.
The 2019 Child Advocate Award, from the SC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. As their mission statement reads: “The South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization that works toward establishing a safe environment for children, promotes the availability of universal vaccine, promotes health care access and financial reform of the health care system, promotes family support and a nurturing environment, and is an advocate for children’s needs.” We have to ask if she would have received this award had it been known her mind set on Family Law and Shared Parenting, which prevents psychological trauma to children.
Her winning of the Legislative Champion Award, from the SC Coalition for Healthy Families. This Organization is a women’s rights group who state they want to advance South Carolina women and their “Families“. But again how is denying children both parents a benefit to Families? Rep. Bernstein builds her career on halting families from finding a common and sensible outcome during what some consider a heartbreaking process for families and especially for children.
Don’t just read the political mailers and take their writing as the gospel! This election year do your homework on all candidates and check on the information they want you to believe. Then…
Get out there and vote smart. And think of the future you want your family to have.