State Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs) says he is within his rights to link information about his legislative campaign to newsletters sent by email from his gun store, Hi Caliber Firearms.
“If someone in the 21 House District or someone in Missouri wants to take advantage of a sale at Hi Caliber, great,” he said. “If they do not, that is also their choice.”
The first salvo was fired last week by a blogger on the left-wing website, Blog For Democracy.
The blogger, who goes under the name of Nasty Old Man, said he resides in Jerguson’s district, but didn’t sign up to receive email alerts from Hi Caliber. However, he received a notice about the spring special from the business.
The blogger contended he only wanted news about the campaign and never signed up to receive commercial emails.
The Hi Caliber newsletter header contained a link to Jerguson’s campaign website, and its footer had his campaign’s mailing address displayed.
It also featured a special that said if a customer brought in the newsletter, he or she would receive one case of 12-gauge field grade shotgun shells for free with the purchase of the shot guns advertised by the newsletter.
While the blog led to a release from Scot Turner, Jerguson’s opponent in the upcoming Republican primary, questioning the ethics of the situation, state ethics officials refused to say whether it was a violation of state ethics laws.
“I have no comment on that,” said State Ethics Commission Chair Kevin Abernathy on Wednesday when interviewed about Jerguson’s actions.
Jerguson told the Tribune on Wednesday that he uses one program to distribute information, but that system contains a separate list of subscribers.
He noted the email was “sent exclusively to my Hi Caliber list.”
In order to be on that list, he added, a customer must voluntarily sign up.
“If someone finds it a burden to like my page or get a newsletter, they don’t have to sign up and they won’t save on their next gun purchase at Hi Caliber,” Jerguson said. “I want to be sure it is clear that there is nothing here that isn’t voluntary. I own a business, Hi Caliber, (and) that business helps support my ability to work as a citizen legislator, (and) to become a legislator, I need to campaign.”
Jerguson said he pays for the system out of his pocket and it also sends newsletters to people from around the country.
He noted he has not gotten one complaint via email or phone call about the newsletter.
The state representative, who said he is an “unabashed supporter of the Second Amendment,” noted he “will probably continue to include the link to my campaign from the gun store newsletters.”
“It allows other gun owners and Second Amendment supporters to follow what action is going on in the legislature,” he added.