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State Representative from Tennessee Poses in Wheelchair Advertisement

November 3, 2013
Source: The Tennesseean

Celebrity endorsements are a dime a dozen at Nashville International Airport. Few, however, feature a [Tennessee] state lawmaker and Metro councilman.

State [Representative] Darren Jernigan, who may be on the verge of gaining an opponent next November, is the star of an advertisement from wheelchair maker Permobil. The ad can be seen near the entrance to Concourse C, one of the busiest parts of the airport.

“You think there are THINGS I CAN’T DO,” the ad copy reads. “Obviously, you DON’T KNOW ME.”

The ad identifies Jernigan, who uses a wheelchair, as a “husband, father, director of government affairs, city councilman, state representative and mobility activist.” Jernigan works for Permobil and said he was asked to pose for the ad by his employers.

The ad could be seen as advantageous for Jernigan, who beat state [Representative] Jim Gotto by just 95 votes in 2012, but it’s not clear that it violates any state laws. One of the few restrictions on state lawmakers is that they cannot be paid an honorarium for performing their duties, and Jernigan said he received no extra compensation for the advertisement.

“They just came to me and said the marketing department is talking about doing an ad with you,” he said. “I didn’t pay for any of it … and I get just the regular salary that I get.”

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