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Beth Bernstein’s First Test



Newly elected S.C. Rep. Beth Bernstein (D-Columbia) won her legislative race last year on the strength of an aggressive anti-corruption push – oh, and the fact her “Republican” opponent was actually further to the left on fiscal issues than she was (which happens a lot in “Republican-controlled” South Carolina).

All of which is why we endorsed her …

Oh, and obviously it doesn’t hurt that Bernstein is super hot … and built like the proverbial brick barnyard.

Anyway, Bernstein’s anti-corruption bona fides are facing a major test this week in the wake of the S.C. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a rigged election in Richland County, S.C.

Miss this story?

Of course you did … like the liberal cowards they are, the court (whose justices are chosen by our state’s “Republican-controlled” General Assembly) waited until Friday afternoon to issue their opinion on the “Richland County Robbery.” Not only that, they upheld this illegal election without comment – effectively endorsing the disenfranchisement of thousands of Richland County voters last November.

The cost? An estimated $1.2 billion in sales taxes which will be imposed on Richland County residents over the next few years.

For those of you unfamiliar with this drama, corrupt officials with close ties to the pro-tax hike movement deliberately suppressed voter turnout in predominantly white, anti-tax hike districts. As a result of this orchestrated fraud – which included illegal shortages of operable voting machines – voters in anti-tax precincts were subjected to wait times of up to seven hours.

And thanks to this illegal voter suppression, the sales tax hike passed by a 52-48 percent margin.

How were these pro-tax forces able to get their goons into positions of power over the electoral process?

Easy: They passed a law in 2011 which handed control of the local elections commission over to the Richland County legislative delegation – which in turn handed it over to their hand-picked elections manager.

Supporters of this coup included: S.C. Senate President John Courson (RINO-Richland), S.C. Senator Joel Lourie (D-Richland), S.C. Senator Darrell Jackson (D-Richland), S.C. Senator John Scott (D-Richland), S.C. Rep. Jimmy Bales (D-Richland), S.C. Rep. Mia Butler (D-Richland), S.C. Rep. Leon Howard (D-Richland), S.C. Rep. Joe Neal (D-Richland), S.C. Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) and S.C. Rep. James Smith (D-Richland).

Bernstein’s opponent (former S.C. Rep. Joan Brady) also supported the change – as did S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, who signed the bill into law in May 2011.

As one of the only members of the Richland County delegation who isn’t infected by this scandal, Bernstein has an opportunity to take a rare principled stand against this corruption. In fact doing so would not only be right, it would be consistent with statements made by U.S. President Barack Obama in his 2013 inaugural address.

“Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote,” Obama said.

Presumably he was talking about white citizens who oppose tax increases, right? Right?

Will Bernstein do the right thing?

We hope so … but we’re not putting any money down on it.

For starters she’s closely aligned to Sen. Lourie – one of the ringleaders of this coup. We’re also told Bernstein is very timid – and unlikely to ruffle feathers on an issue which involves so many powerful interests. In fact Bernstein refused to respond to our request for comment on the Supreme Court’s decision over the weekend.

That’s too bad.

Bernstein campaigned on comprehensive ethics reform – and has continued to champion such reforms since she was elected. But being a true “champion” on an issue means fighting for it even when it isn’t politically advisable – and especially when it involves corruption perpetrated by one’s allies.

Bottom line? If Bernstein lets this pitch go by, she will have lost all credibility when it comes to advancing “ethics reform” at the S.C. State House. Not only that she will have proven herself to be the latest in a long line of Palmetto politicians who folded like a cheap suit when it came time to stand up for what they claim to believe.

Hopefully that won’t be the case, but we’re not holding our breath …