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A Pennsylvania state representative says a reporter for the Beaver County Times pretended to be covering his public events for the newspaper, but instead may have been preparing to run against the incumbent in next year’s election.

Republican State Representative Aaron Bernstine told the Beaver Countian he held a series of town halls in April and May of this year to hear directly from his constituents and allow them to hear from him about his legislative priorities. Bernstine said reporter Ryan O’Shea from the Beaver County Times attended four of those five town halls, and that he and his staff were led to believe the man was covering the events for the newspaper. However, no coverage of those events can be found.

Bernstine said he later learned the man has been making plans to run for state representative on the Democratic ticket.

“I have known Ryan O’Shea to be a reporter for the Beaver County Times,” said Representative Bernstine. “When he came to the town halls he introduced himself to my staff as being a member of the press and handed them his business card for the Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. At that point, he asked me if he could record video for a story in the Times and Ledger. He also asked if he could put a mic on me so he could get better quality audio for his coverage. I think it’s important for people in political life to be as transparent as possible, so I agreed.”

Ryan O’Shea told the Beaver Countian that he did not attend Aaron Bernstine’s events in his capacity as a reporter for the Beaver County Times or Ellwood City Ledger, but rather in his role as private citizen who just happens to be one of Representative Bernstine’s constituents.

“Rep. Bernstine knew me before I attended his town halls so I didn’t introduce myself as anything,” O’Shea wrote in an email.

O’Shea further said in a text message, “I do attend as many town hall events from all elected officials as I can make it to. I did not cover any Bernstine town halls in an official capacity as an employee of The Times, but as his constituent. I applaud Bernstine for having these town halls.”

O’Shea also told the Beaver Countian that he is not “currently” a candidate for public office, “[T]here is currently no announcement that I will be seeking any office. I am in the process of leaving the Beaver County Times, and my focus for now is on my startup company. If there is a change in the future, you’ll be among the first to know.”

Ryan O’Shea said he never intended to mislead anyone about why he was attending the town hall events.

“I don’t know what Rep. Bernstine or anyone else there may have assumed about my intentions, but if he was anticipating coverage from the events, I expect I would have received a follow up asking me about it,” wrote O’Shea in an email to the Beaver Countian. “I never heard from him or his staff.”

The Beaver Countian had been hearing from politicos as early as the beginning of this year that Ryan O’Shea was exploring a run against Aaron Bernstine in next year’s election for state representative for the 10th District, which covers parts of Beaver County, Butler County and Lawrence County, including the Borough of New Brighton where O’Shea resides.

Beaver County Democratic Committee Chairman Stephen Dupree confirmed those rumors to the Beaver Countian during an interview yesterday.

“Ryan O’Shea has talked a lot to me about running for state representative against Bernstine,” said Dupree. “However, he has not made his official public campaign announcement yet.”

Mandy Hyde, who serves as Representative Bernstine’s Constituent Outreach Specialist, told the Beaver Countian that Ryan O’Shea first introduced himself to her at one of the events.

“I was at the Franklin Township town hall where he introduced himself to me as being with the media,” said Hyde. “He gave me his business card that had the Times and Ledger on it and he put a microphone on Representative Bernstine and video recorded him for a story.”

A photograph provided to the Beaver Countian of Bernstein at one of his town hall events shows him wearing a small black microphone.

State Representative Bernstine at a town hall event in Beaver Falls wearing what he says is a microphone put on him by Ryan O’Shea / submitted photo

Representative Bernstine’s Chief of Staff Nicholas Kerin did not attend the event in Franklin Township, but told the Beaver Countian that he met Ryan O’Shea at another town hall held in Beaver Falls.

“I’m at the event and a man showed up and started setting up a professional camera,” said Kerin. “So I walked over to him as Representative Bernstine’s [Chief of Staff] and asked who him who he was. He introduced himself as reporter Ryan O’Shea, gave me a business card with the Times and Elwood City Ledger on it, and said he was going to be doing some recording for the paper. He told me he was a good contact in the press for me to have and later added me as a friend on Facebook. He told me I could contact him with any information.”

The Beaver Countian was provided with photographs of the business cards both Hyde and Kerin say they were handed by O’Shea at the two separate town halls, and each said they never saw any subsequent coverage of the events in the Beaver County Times or Ellwood City Ledger. A search by the Beaver Countian also did not find any reporting about the events.

Photographs of business cards that Hyde and Kerin say they were handed by O’Shea / submitted photographs

Dupree told the Beaver Countian that in furtherance of an anticipated campaign, O’Shea attended a training class for candidates several weeks ago in Harrisburg conducted by the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC) and that he has been active with the Beaver County Young Democrats.

“It is the goal of the HDCC to run 203 candidates for state representative,” said Dupree. “Nobody gets a free pass.”

O’Shea said he attended the recent House Democratic Campaign Committee training, and similar training, because he wanted to “learn about the process and become a more informed citizen.” He said he had previously attended other classes including a Republican Committee of Beaver County Candidate Workshop and that he is “not a fan of partisan politics.”

Dupree told the Beaver Countian that he believes O’Shea will make “a great candidate” for the Democratic party. However, Dupree said he believes being forthcoming is the best policy for his perspective candidates.

“[O’Shea] told me several months ago that he wanted to run, he asked me what he should do, and we have had many conversations since then,” said Dupree. “He is an intelligent individual, so I’m sure he has a reason why he thinks saying the things he is now saying is a good decision. I’m not supporting it, I’m not agreeing with it, but he must have a reason.”

Several Democratic county officials the Beaver Countian has spoken with also said they understood that O’Shea was going to be their candidate against Bernstine.

Rather than gathering information to report to the public, Representative Bernstine believes Ryan O’Shea was actually attending his town halls to do opposition research against him and believes O’Shea may use his recordings for campaign purposes.

O’Shea told the Beaver Countian that he regularly films politicians at public events for his own personal use which is separate from his work as a professional reporter, and that he had offered to provide a copy of the videos to Bernstine’s staff, although they never followed up with him to obtain one.

“Filming full live events involving local politicians of both parties is nothing new for me. I do it whenever possible, and I try to make this video freely available to the politicians to use for their own purposes, just as I did for Rep. Bernstine,” he wrote.

O’Shea provided the Beaver Countian with several links to his Facebook page showing videos he shot of various politicians and political events, including an interview of then-Representative Jaret Gibbons, a debate between Jim Christiana and Mike Rossi, and an interview he conducted of State Representative Jim Christiana, which he said had been done in his personal rather than professional capacity.

“All of these videos (and more that have not been posted) were filmed by me as a private citizen,” wrote O’Shea in his email.

None of Representative Bernstine’s town hall events were among the videos that O’Shea had posted to his Facebook page.

State Representative Jim Christiana told the Beaver Countian that the interview O’Shea had conducted of him in the past was extensive, and he was in no way under the impression that the reporter was interviewing him as a private citizen. Christiana said he understood O’Shea to be a freelance journalist for WTAE at the time and believed the interview could potentially lead to coverage on the station.

“I was never under the impression that Mr. O’Shea did any of his political coverage because it was a hobby for him,” said Christiana. “At that time, as now, I was well aware of Mr. O’Shea’s resume as a journalist. I was more than happy to have a substantive on-camera conversation with him in that capacity, just as with all of the other journalists I have given interviews to.”

O’Shea responded in an email to the Beaver Countian, “[Christiana] was aware that I did not cover politics for WTAE. He was aware that he was not speaking to me as someone representing WTAE.” O’Shea clarified that he was not a freelance reporter for the station at the time, but rather employed as a digital content producer.

A description under the video that O’Shea posted of his interview with Christiana reads: “This is part of my ongoing interview series with elected officials and important figures in Beaver County and Western Pennsylvania. Feel free to follow Ryan O’Shea WTAE for more!”

As for the microphone that Bernstine was wearing during his town hall, Ryan O’Shea insisted he did not arrive expecting to ask Bernstine to wear it.

“When I arrived and began setting up my tripod at his Slippery Rock Township town hall, Rep. Bernstine approached me to welcome me, shook my hand, motioned to my lavalier mic and said something along the lines of ‘Would you like me to wear that?’” O’Shea told the Beaver Countian. “I wasn’t going to ask him to wear a microphone, but since he offered I figured it would be a good idea.”

Beaver County Times Assistant Managing Editor Kristen Doerschner said the paper did not know that Ryan O’Shea had been attending and filming many of Bernstine’s town hall events in that manner.

“It is our understanding that he has not officially decided anything on a run for office,” said Doerschner. “No official action has been taken in terms of that.”

When told of Democratic Committee Chairman Stephen Dupree’s statements to the Beaver Countian that O’Shea had attended candidate classes in preparation for a candidacy and had been meeting with the Democratic Party about a campaign against Bernstine, Doerschner said that was information her paper did not have.

“If that is true, I am unaware of that, as are the other editors,” said Doerschner, who confirmed that O’Shea will not be working for the paper much longer. “Ryan did turn in his notice at the beginning of the week, he put in his two weeks on Tuesday [July 18th]. The reason that we were given is he is involved in a startup company and he said that he wanted to focus on his startup.”

Doerschner said O’Shea is a general assignment reporter for the paper who covers diverse topics. She stressed that Ryan O’Shea is of no relation to Managing Editor Patrick O’Shea, and that the two men did not know each other before working together at the paper.

State Representative Aaron Bernstine said he is outraged about Ryan O’Shea, believes the man is now playing coy about plans he was making for a political candidacy, and dismisses claims that he was filming the town halls as part of a personal hobby.

“I am open to having a microphone placed on me by a reporter because I think that adds an additional level of transparency; it allows my constituents to understand what I am doing and allows me to gain their insights and opinions in response,” said Bernstine. “Clearly I wouldn’t have allowed a political opponent to put a microphone on me and my staff would not have added him on Facebook to provide him with information […] I think the greatest issue is that Mr. O’Shea misrepresented what he was there for by fraudulently claiming he was there operating as a reporter for The Times. Anytime you have someone who starts off a political campaign with that type of lack of integrity it raises great concerns.”

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John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

75 COMMENTS

  1. Welcome to the year 2017. technology makes underhanded political wanabes reach new lows. Despicable yes but common behavior now a days.

     
  2. DEMON-RATS! If ANYBODY ever votes for a DEMON-RAT again, it must mean that they had a lobotomy done to them. These people are the slime and cesspool of this country and county. They are the fascists they keep talking about and they are to stupid to even realize it……..

     
  3. yeah cause the republicans are sure doing a good job running the country into the ground
    dont need demon rats helping it along right

     
  4. What is concerning to me about this article is the fact that the Times editor shared confidential information about an employee.

     
  5. Hmmmm…..if anybody associated with the BCT was going to run for local office, this is the last guy I would have expected. From everything I’ve seen of him on social media, he’s got a fairly successful tech startup.

    He did some shady things here, no doubt.

     
  6. Any means necessary to get one of the best paying jobs with benefits/perks, insider knowledge … and the list goes on. Look at little jimmy, not a bad gig.

     
  7. Another slime ball running for office. So what, were you expecting some upright genuine citizen seeking office to help taxpayers? Keep dreaming. Not surprised that BC Times was involved and “knew nothing” about him. They don’t seem to know a helluva lot except who will pimp their cause to keep that rag afloat. Can’t wait till they die and we can they finally bury that rag in a time warp capsule. Without Scott Tady’s fluff the paper is about 4 pages long of reprinted outside sources. I can do that for about 10 cents online. Cut and paste. By hook or by crook the Dems want to get power & continue the same old same old shit. Tax and spend. No government too big, no program we can’t hang the cost on taxpayers. Not that the Repubs are any better. NEVER vote for a party but for your interests and the interests of the average taxpayer, many of whom are on fixed incomes. Get informed.

     
  8. Lying is nothing new in politics. But, now people will not trust you. Not illegal, but a moral dilemma.

    I won’t vote for you.

     
  9. yeah like how trump lies so no one trusts him
    and all the republicans lie so no one trusts them either
    and how Hilary lies and no one trusts her
    and how trump sold positions in the government so no one trusts him even more
    oh except the ridiot redneck republicans who will swear up and down he didnt collaborate with russia the whole time ….they probably still trust him cause the trust anything thats republican and destroys the constitution
    its a moral choice whether or not you care about him destroying the country
    he sure as shit dont give a fuck about anyone that didnt give money to his campaign your all just redneckidiots to him

     
    • So @Howard………in 40 words or less let’s hear your groundbreaking solution to the problem? And try not to use big Scooby Doo words like…”ridiot redneck”… haha get it?!?….So Mungo admonishes you Howie please enlighten us redneckidiots to the o so clever and innovative ways you would steer this great big ship to much smoother waters?????

      By the way the original redneck was caused by the sun burning the uncovered field workers neck as they mostly wore shirts when working their collective asses off by building the foundation and infrastructure this Great nation originated upon! As a comparison from redneck to welfare teet sucking freeloading good for nothing generation free shit army, Mungo can proudly say he is one of those redned idiots you seem to loath so much!

      So again the ball is in your court Howie….what say you to the challenge of enlightening us to your plans to make America great again?

       
      • Well, please explain how Trump is doing it. I agree, he’s making it great for billionaires and his cronies but what exactly is he doing that makes him so great? Stepping all over the constitution? Is that making America great again? Trump supporters have cult mentality and can’t see anything past the orange kool aid. I admit I don’t have plans to make it great again, I’m a working taxpayer doing what I can to make it a nice day or moment for anyone in my path.

         
    • Just darken O’Shea’s hair and he is the spitting image of Mr.Bean! And considering the stelllar qualifications one must possess to be in the employ of the one of the worlds most respectable, honest, and integrity saturated news papers on the planet…….uh huh ugh!!!!!………sorry just threw up a bit….shit was getting deep there for a moment. But considering only top notch intellectuals are even considered for a spot a the BCT than just looking like Mr.Bean really is not good enough, one must also be able to channel the ability to think like Mr. Bean as well! So God speed there mr O’Shea on yer new start up and hopefully with copius use of some good lye or Lava soap you’re able to wash the slime off that must have been thick as hell everyday you walked into the dying relic of such a befouled establishment known as the Beaver County Times!

       
    • HAHA Look at Christiana’s set of golf clubs, at the ready, in his office. You know, in case Trump buzzes into town for a quick 18 at Blackhawk.

      #Fore!

       
  10. The state is two billion dollars short on the budget and all this fuckin asswipe can do is worry about himself

     
  11. So what?? They were town hall meetings!!! Isn’t eh public invited to town hall meetings?? If it was invitation only, it wouldn’t be a town hall meeting!!! Was Bernstine saying things he should not have been saying??? Talk about your snowflakes–melting under a little heat are we, Representative Bernstine???

     
  12. A quick jog around the internet seems to suggest that Ryan O’Shea is young, talented, bright, energetic, imaginative, creative, well-schooled, productive, ambitious, etc., perhaps even honest. And, this alleged “con” might have been a misstep on his part, as he might have overplayed his hand with the business cards and phony coverage. I think a quick fact check would find that he doesn’t work for the CIA.

    But noticeably lacking is any governmental experience, legal background or record of governmental activities of note, just relationships, interviews, event coverage and the like. In short, he is just too young, too unfocused. Not around long enough to know the business or the history of it first-hand. Yes, he has to jump onto the merry-go-round at some point to get experience, but better that it be as an assistant at the foot of a mentor already in the business. Winning the PlaySchool Christiana mime and lookalike contest doesn’t do it. But dropping all the other activities to concentrate on being a politician might make him more credible.

    So far, though, he doesn’t seem to be related to any of the current corrupt Courthouse denizens, and that might be his ticket for a ride. The last people who campaigned on anti-nepotism and honesty are now sitting in the Courthouse, and we know how that worked out, don’t we?

    One suggestion? Drop the Beaver County Times like a hot potato. Word on the street is that it is contagious.

     
    • The journalist denied the report, maybe we all dont believe what people in power say to stay in power. The story makes no sense. Journalist decieves his way into a public forum? No sense, just a smear campaign that you fell for.

       
  13. Meh. So what? It was a public forum. If it was a private event, it could be a problem, but would Bernstine have felt some need to edit his comments knowing this beforehand?

    Look, run on your record. Everybody. If you are doing a good job, the cream will rise to the top. If you are doing good things, being sincere, you will have that as your basis to be re-elected.

     
  14. Bernstine is a weasel and a liar. Don’t believe a word from his mouth without checking it out first. Christiana backing him up should tell you all you need to know about this. Two lyin’ peas in a pod.

     
    • The only thing shady here are Bernstine and Christiana’s lies. And the current Repub’s are no better than the worst of the Dem’s- Guy, Gabauer, Lozier or Javens, David … they’re all the same- shady.

       
  15. O’Shea was probably studying the technique used by most politicians, how they can speak out of both sides of their mouth, also how to lie with a straight face. A novice learning the tricks.

     
  16. Why is Rep. Bernstine concerned about townhall recordings, didn’t he willingly, by his own admission, put on mic and allow himself to be recorded in a public forum? What does he want to hide, post the recordings. Let us hear what Rep. Bernstine is trying to hide. That would be actual transparency.

     
  17. State Reps don’t have Chief of Staff positions. The real title is Leg Assistant (District Operations). They just like to use that title because many like to fancy themselves as a Doug Stamper, sans the creepy vibe and alcoholism.

     
    • The real title is: I’m a political whore and can’t get a job so I’ll lick your boots while you do nothing and I’ll swear you are one hard working SOB. Usually it’s also the first step for you to take over when the other drone bleeds the taxpayers dry for a pension while not even balancing a budget. Suck ass job. No dignity but being a groveler.

       
  18. Please! Politicians are such Attention Whores they die for coverage and an audience. If it is a public session it’s fair game and you can say no you cannot mic me. Be a big boy.

     
  19. “I think the greatest issue is that Mr. O’Shea misrepresented what he was there for by fraudulently claiming he was there operating as a reporter for The Times.”

    Yes. The mistake of a dilettante, a newbie, a vicarious dabbler in politics and many other areas. Decide what you want to be when you grow up, find out what the rules are, then go for it. This is a minor gaff, and it will pass. Some of the Courthouse and Oval Office crooks do this kind of thing intentionally. Maybe program your new feedback device to to shock politicians when they lie.

    This Old Bird’s advice — stay out of politics. It’s a waste of your talents, especially in Beaver County, and you’ll never make what you could in your other endeavors. Patience, my friend.

     
    • “I think the greatest issue is that Mr. O’Shea misrepresented what he was there for by fraudulently claiming he was there operating as a reporter for The Times.” This is a lie, brought to you by your neighborhood bs peddler, and you just bought it hook, line, and sinker.

       
  20. Bernstine’s being a crybaby, but I’d be nervous, too, if a potential opponent had tapes of those town halls. I was at one of those town halls, and Bernstine performed very poorly.

    One girl asked him about his support for repealing Medicaid expansion in PA and how it would cause 5,000 Beaver County residents to lose their healthcare. Bernstine got so frustrated with the questioner that he directed someone from the back of the room to “get her out of here”, and he ended the town hall shortly thereafter. He’s an embarrassment.

     
  21. So what is Bernstine saying? That he would have answered the questions differently if there was nobody there recording him? What’s the big deal with this? Bernstine just wants a reason to whine. He’s an elected official. He SHOULD be scrutinized, and if he’s too thin-skinned to handle it, then he should get out of the legislature and let somebody do it who isn’t a wuss.

     
  22. I, for one, am tired of BOTH parties. So, as a DIGUSTED Democrat I would ask Mr. Dupree, when is the
    Democratic Party going to back some PROGRESSIVE democratic candidates that don’t follow the “established
    party line”?

     
  23. My dealings with Bernstine shows him to be a very uncaring, conniving person
    and I can prove it. Isn’t that right Bernstine. It doesn’t matter who runs against Bernstine his actions will always speak louder than his words.

     
    • “…and I can prove it.” I don’t have a horse in Bernstine’s race, and I don’t care much either way. But it would help if some facts accompanied this comment.

       
      • I don’t have a horse in the race either Bernstine is out of my voting district. but after my dealings with Bernstine, I now, do care. Bernstine needs to go. Sorry, I cannot tell you more, now, in this forum. I document everything I do, and even got Bernstiens “Chief of Stuff” to sign off on it. What I did, I did for ethical reasons, not political, as I said, I cannot even vote for him. The letter I wrote Bernstine probably precipitated this whole article of bs against O’Shea. Ask Bernstine to print it. Common Bernstine get some guts print it and show people what you are really like.

         
  24. A remedy for the two billion budget shortfall ..cut the size of the Legislature. They get nothing done, spend a majority of their time beefing up their “war chest” for their reelection bid, catering to the lobbyists and checking out the “gerrymandering” outline of their far flung empires.

     
  25. well mungo im not a politician but seems to me the first thing to do is impeach trump and of course you would also have to get rid of his corrupt cronies before they start another war …..and we all know how republicans love wars cause they make so much money on war ….just like ol dick chaney did in the made up iraq war . then you impose laws that keep presidents from selling seats of power to whoever has enough money to donate to his campaign …. the only difference between democrat and republicans is the democrats act like they give a shit about the people republicans will pretty much tell you to your face they could give a shit less about the people. Trump is not helping anyone but his rich friends so just how the fuck is he making america great again he sure is making it great for the rich with massive tax cuts

     
    • And impeach him for what exactly??……..Because Killary lost?!……..Oh, I know……..RUSSIA-RUSSIA-RUSSIA!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Grow up already. And get some medical treatment for that MadCow disease you seem to have contracted.

       
  26. Bernstine put out a press release last month saying that he wrote a bill because “Patient advocacy groups in Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties brought this legal loophole to my attention,”- which is a complete and total lie. It was me who brought it to his attention (and it actually started with Jaret Gibbons in early 2015). When I asked him who these “advocacy groups” were, he said the DA and the Hospital Association of PA. I contacted both of them, and they said he was a liar. I called him again, and this time he said it was the Mental Health Association of PA, MHA of Beaver County, the Phoenix Center, and a persons name. Again, I contacted them, and he was again lying. This is the kind of guy Bernstine is. He seems to be so used to lying that he even lies for reasons that don’t make sense or seem to benefit him.

     
  27. you bet ya comrade
    trump is a piece of shit period
    clintons are dirty as fuck
    you have a douche and a turd who do you vote for?

     
  28. Bernstine commenting that the Beaver County Times did the right and ethical thing.
    Bernstine ethical. ROFLOL That word should not be in any sentence that has Bernstine in it.
    As BC ADVOCATE stated Bernstine lies, over and over, at times for no apparent reason. Now the word liar, can definitely be used with anything that has Bernstine in it.

    Let’s talk about Bernstine’s form of ethics
    Bernstine …..Print the letter I sent you. Get your “Chief of Stuff” to find it and print it here.
    Can I drop another copy off at your office?

    I did the ethical thing, it’s time for Bernstine to be eeeth….aagh I can’t even type the word because it will have Bernstine name in it.

    PRINT THE LETTER

     
  29. trump should be impeached for selling the country to russia
    among other things like ripping off the american people
    selling positions to people that donated to his campaign
    and as far as the russian shit goes they have FACTS to back up the claims thats the reason the FBI director was fired ( you know what facts are dont you get over it ) they are what proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that thew shit happened . i dont care for either of the clintons either but what makes Trump any better they are all the same dipshit trump is nothing but an inbred moron trying to destroy the country and sucking putins dick the whole time
    tired of imbred pieces of shit like you every time someone says something about it you try to reaon it or justify it or just plain act like it didnt happen your probably one of the same inbred assclowns that helped elect bush just because he was republican and thats how you roll

     

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