Stavrinakis campaign accused of misquoting non-profit exec

Favor for a Friend

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Remember that press conference that Leon Stavrinakis held in which he played the Mother Emanuel card in his response to an innocuous ad from Ginny Deerin. Sure you do.

Well, now one of the individuals who stood up for Leon, Robin Berlinsky of the children's non-profit Engaging Creative Minds, is accusing the Stavrinakis camp of misquoting her, saying the alleged misquote has left her feeling "violated."

Initially, Berlinsky sent an email to me — as well as the board of directors of Engaging Creative Minds — accusing me of misquoting her. In her email, she wrote:

I am writing in regards to a recent article in the City Paper in which I am quoted. I was very surprised and disappointed to read the quote as it was not what was said. Also, I did not represent myself as the Executive Director of Engaging Creative Minds nor did I endorse any one candidate. I appeared at the press conference as a favor to a close friend who asked me to speak on behalf of the children of our city, to show support of positive campaigning and being a good role model. As a long time teacher in the community, I was happy to do that.

I was very careful to craft my message so it would be generic and relate only to the children; a positive message, certainly not taking any one side. I have enjoyed this election and am quite impressed with several of the mayoral candidates. I am still deciding who will get my vote.

While I appreciate your hard work as a reporter, I am deeply saddened and embarrassed that I, and Engaging Creative Minds, are misquoted and misrepresented in your article.

And so, I sent her last week's press release from the Stavrinakis campaign in which she was quoted as saying: "It’s more important than ever to keep Charleston together. We are here to say that we will not allow our city to be divided and to stand with Leon Stavrinakis. Over the last year, our unity is what has kept us together. It’s very unfortunate that we have a candidate for Mayor threatening that unity with a negative and divisive campaign."

Berlinsky's reply: "Wow! Thank you, Chris. This is very good information to have. I feel so violated right now! Sorry to accuse you of the inaccurate information. I will talk to the team over at Leon's office to make sure nothing like this happens again."

I sent an email to the Stavrinakis campaign seeking comment. Tyler Jones, communications director for Leon Stavrinakis, replied, "We're not aware of a misquote but we did make an error in identifying Ms. Berlinsky's job title. We did not mean to imply she was speaking on behalf of anyone other than herself."

With friends like these, who needs asshole columnists?

Update 5:54 pm: Robin Berlinsky has written back with a statement: "My hope is after the election we will have more positive opportunities for more children and youth in the community to succeed. As I understand it, my comments were paraphrased and my work title was used and should not have been."

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