Columbia, SC – House District 78 candidate Beth Bernstein publicly released her seven-point ethics reform package on Monday, citing a need to take “necessary measures to clean up the state house.” The seven-point ethics reform plan is as follows:
Beth Bernstein Seven-Point Point Ethics Reform Plan
1. Term Limits for All Legislators – 10 years for House, 12 years for Senate. South Carolina cannot afford to have career politicians. If we implement term limits for legislators, we can prevent what is supposed to be public service from turning into a career.
2. No political contributions during legislative session. It is no secret that money can control votes in the General Assembly. By eliminating any and all political contributions during legislative session, we can ensure that no votes are cast due to the exchanging of money.
3. Full disclosure of lawmaker’s income sources. It is vital to the integrity of the General Assembly for legislators to disclose from which sources they are being paid. This is especially important if a ban on political contributions during legislative session is passed. No legislator should be able to receive a paycheck solely for being a member of the General Assembly. This added layer of transparency will prevent that abuse of power.
4. Eliminate Partisan Ethics Committees, fully fund investigative unit at SC Ethics Commission. Asking legislators to police other legislators is like asking the fox to guard the hen house. To make matters worse, the House Ethics Committee is overwhelmingly partisan in contrast to almost every other ethics committee in the country. This is wrong. We must eliminate the House and Senate Ethics Committees and give authority and investigative power to the South Carolina Ethics Commission.
5. Show proof of receipts for all campaign expenditures/reimbursements on ethics filings. Legislators must understand that campaign money is not their personal money. We have consistently seen elected officials co-mingle funds without disclosing proper documentation. We must stop this abuse of power and put stringent measures in place to ensure transparency. If legislators have nothing to hide, they should be required to prove it.
6. Eliminate “blackout period” – require candidates to file weekly ethics reports in October before election. It is important for voters to know exactly who is contributing to legislators and candidates. Unfortunately, under the current rules, there is a two-week period prior to election day when candidates can accept campaign contributions without having to disclose that information until after the election is over. This is commonly referred to as the “blackout period.” This practice allows special interest groups to bankroll campaigns because the record of their contributions will not be available to the public until after voters go to the polls. In an effort to give voters true transparency, I will be posting weekly contribution summaries on my website during the blackout period so voters know exactly who is funding my campaign.
7. Five year waiting period on legislators becoming lobbyists: One of the potential issues with state government is the prominence of the “good ole boy” system. Often times, when legislators retire or lose an election, they return to the state house as powerful special interest lobbyists. They use their connections in the Legislature to make money for their clients, without having to answer to voters. Instead of a one year ban on legislators becoming lobbyists, let’s put a strict five year waiting period in place so legislators can’t make a career out of being a former member of the General Assembly. Public service should be about serving people, not getting rich.
Beth Bernstein released the following statement:
“We have all seen the headlines – Politician A indicted for this, Politician B under investigation for that,” said candidate Beth Bernstein. “I believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant, and my ethics reform plan represents transparency, accountability, and common sense.”
Bernstein also challenged her opponent, incumbent Rep. Joan Brady, to respond to whether or not she supports these sensible measures.
“I think it is important for voters to know whether Representative Brady supports these practical ethics reforms, or if she’s content with continuing to do nothing,” said Bernstein.
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