An employee of Beaufort County's Legislative Delegation received an electronic reprimand from a state representative Wednesday after she used the delegation's email list to forward an invitation to a Beaufort Area Republican Club event.
State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, told the employee the county website and email list were "never to be used for fundraising or partisan messages, ever," in an email sent at 12:30 p.m., about two hours after the invitation was first sent out.
The employee, delegation legislative assistant Meredith Irion, forwarded an email extending an invitation to a Republican club business meeting later this month. Irion sent the email to all of the delegation members -- including Democratic Sen. Clementa Pinckney of Jasper County and Democratic Reps. William Bowers of Hampton County and Kenneth Hodges of Green Pond. It was not sent to Republican Party constituents or county residents.
Bowers said he had not seen the email but said emails are routinely forwarded to all members of the delegation, potentially without them having been read by the sender.
Irion forwarded the email Jan. 9 that asked for the delegation's RSVP in an "important" election year.
"We have a number of important elections coming up this year (2 U.S. Senators, a Governor, etc.) and the Dems plan to really target South Carolina," the invitation says.
About two hours after the email was sent, Herbkersman told Irion to retract the email and any others with a partisan or fundraising bent.
Irion, who has been the legislative assistant for only a few months, declined to comment on the email.
Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said Irion was complying with a request from another member of the delegation to send out the Republican club invitation and that she, as the legislative assistant, serves as a clearinghouse of information for the delegation. Davis declined to say which delegation member made the request .
Herbkersman said he thought it was a case of Irion "being new to the job" and not knowing what could and could not be forwarded to the delegation.
Davis said he and the other delegation members needed to discuss how future invitations should be handled.
Herbkersman said he received a response from Hodges, who thanked him for the quick response to the email.
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Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.