South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

At least one Mehlville parent received political email from firefighters’ union

District officials continuing their probe of political emails.

At least one Mehlville School District parent reported receiving the same political email that was sent to more than 400 staff email addresses the day before the April 5 election.

District officials are investigating how those addresses were obtained by a third-party vendor that distributed the email, which advocated the election of Michael Klund to the Mehlville Fire Protection Board of Directors.

The email, titled “Mehlville Firefighters and Paramedics Support Mike Klund,” was sent from Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Klund on April 5 narrowly lost his bid for the board seat to incumbent Chairman Aaron Hilmer.

Officials received word last week that the email showed up in the inbox of at least one district parent.

Mark Capkovic, an Oakville parent, wrote in an email to Superintendent Terry Noble, Deputy Superintendent Eric Knost and Director of Communications Emily McFarland that he became “extremely concerned” after receiving the Local 1889 email.

Family and friends with children in Mehlville schools also received the email, Capkovic contended, leading him to believe their addresses were obtained through the district.

“This greatly concerns me as I have provided my email address to the school district solely for school related matters involving my three children,” he wrote. “The school district should have nothing to do with political campaigns.”

The message was sent to roughly 420 Mehlville employees using Constant Contact, an email-based marketing firm.

The district has never used Constant Contact, but Knost said last week its services are similar to those of Katey Charles Communications, which distributes Mehlville’s electronic newsletter.

“It’s not an office building somewhere. It’s online,” Knost said, referring to Constant Contact. “Somebody goes in, creates an account and then they can develop their marketing piece, and then they can upload their recipient list.”

Knost said Constant Contact is looking into the Local 1889 email but added the investigation may hit a “dead end” depending on how much the company is willing to disclose.

“They don’t divulge, and I don’t think they will divulge, client information — who exactly are the administrators of this account,” he said. “But they did tell us that the account we’re talking about was already under scrutiny. They’re reviewing it and they are to get back to us.”

The email, formatted as an electronic newsletter, stated in part, “… The Mehlville Firefighters and Paramedics of Local 1889 are supporting Mike Klund for the Mehlville Fire Protection District on April 5, and believe strongly that you should too.”

A disclaimer at bottom of the message stated, “Email addresses used for this email were compiled through various family, friends, supporters of Mike Klund, the Mehlville Firefighters and Paramedics and public records, like taxpayer-funded websites.”

District policy prohibits it from accepting political advertisements, and officials have stressed no one requested or received permission to use the email addresses.

Klund has said he was “completely unaware” of the email being circulated.

Asked if district officials have contacted Local 1889 officials about the email, Knost said, “Our communications department attempted that the day it came out and did not get a reply.”

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