This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah declaring pornography a public health crisis elicited a response from Larry Flynt, the founder of Hustler Magazine.

And Flynt's response resulted in a Twitter fight between the Republicans running for governor, who have tried to outdo one another in talking tough about porn.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox slammed Jonathan Johnson, claiming his company sells pornographic materials online. A campaign spokeswoman for Johnson, chairman of, later returned fire based on the Cox family's past television offerings of porn.

It all began shortly after Cox's boss Gov. Gary Herbert headlined a celebratory and ceremonial signing of the anti-porn resolution at the state Capitol on Tuesday, Flynt released a statement saying that Utah's Legislature "is obviously confused about what constitutes a public health crisis, so I'll send them our latest issue and they can see for themselves that we're no danger to the public, only to the repressed."

Flynt has been sending members of Congress a copy of Hustler each month since 1983. It's not clear that he's sending more than one copy to Utah's Legislature.

In his statement, Flynt went on to highlight a 1969 report from the President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography that found no link between porn and crime.

"This report has been gathering dust for over 40 years," Flynt said. "And Utah is only dragging out this issue now to satisfy religious zealots."

Johnson, the Overstock chairman, took to Twitter Wednesday morning calling Flynt's plan to mail a copy of Hustler to each state legislator "revolting & disgraceful."

Two hours later, Cox, Herbert's running mate, responded: "Will you commit that your company will stop selling Mr. Flynt's porn?"

He included a link to Overstock, where a customer could order a subscription to Penthouse, another porn magazine not owned or operated by Flynt.

Cox also tweeted that Johnson failed to give Herbert credit for the nonbinding resolution, which doesn't regulate or ban anything, adding "P.S. Really wish Overstock didn't sell porn."

Overstock does sell Hustler-brand clothes, but it doesn't appear to offer a subscription to that magazine.

Cox said he learned that Overstock sold pornographic magazines by seeing others respond to Johnson's tweet.

"I think it is great that he agrees with the governor and the Legislature that it is a public health issue," Cox said in an interview. "This is a place he could do something about it by stopping his company from profiting off of porn."

Asked for a response, Sasha Clark, a spokeswoman for Johnson's campaign, said: "Jonathan was complimenting the Legislature for its efforts on this issue. Spencer Cox has turned this into a last minute smear campaign to guarantee his next government paycheck. Cox also doesn't mention that you can buy Christian reading material and books on overcoming addiction on the publicly traded company's site as well."

Clark also pointed out that the Cox family-run CentraCom, a central Utah telecommunication company has offered on-demand porn channels for years.

Cox said he was personally working with providers in New York to remove the porn channels when he became lieutenant governor in 2013, and that the company doesn't advertise the service.

Nate Palmer, CentraCom's vice president of marketing, said the contract wasn't renewed and the porn options were eliminated a couple of months ago, though they still may show up on the on-screen guide.

"It just takes time for the guides to remove those from the listings, but you can't order it on our system and you haven't been able to for a couple of months."

Herbert and Johnson will face off Saturday at the state Republican Convention. Johnson will progress to the primary ballot if he gets at least 40 percent of the delegate vote and he could claim the nomination outright with 60 percent. If he got less than 40 percent, he would be eliminated from the contest.