PAC ‘possibly’ may support candidate in election for MFPD Board of Directors

‘Mehlville Fire Fighters’ group makes $50,000 contribution to Tri-County PAC

By Mike Anthony

A recently organized political action committee “possibly” may support a candidate in the April 2 election for a seat on the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors.

Jennifer Stuhlman, treasurer of the Citizens for Good Government, told the Call last week the political action committee, or PAC, “possibly” may support a candidate in the April election in which Lemay resident Mike Klund is challenging board Secretary Ed Ryan, of Concord.

However, asked if the committee would support a particular candidate, she said, “If I am, it will be on my eight-day report,” referring to the report required to be filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission eight days before the election.

Asked if she would reveal which MFPD candidate the Citizens for Good Government might support in next month’s election, Stuhlman said, “I haven’t made any decisions at this point.”

Stuhlman, a University City firefighter/paramedic, is a state service representative for the 2nd District of the International Association of Fire Fighters and a staff representative for Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665.

Besides serving as treasurer of the Citizens for Good Government, which was organized in late January, Stuhlman is treasurer of the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC.

On Feb. 5, the Professional Fire Fighters of Tri-County PAC reported a $50,000 contribution from “Mehlville Fire Fighters,” according to campaign finance reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. That same day, the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC reported a $500 contribution from the “International Association of Firefighters Local 1889.”

Both Mehlville groups listed Freeburg, Ill., addresses.

On Feb. 25, the Citizens for Good Government reported to the Missouri Ethics Commission a contribution of $50,500 from the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC.

Asked if she wanted to comment about the fact that the contribution of $50,500 to the Citizens for Good Government from the Professional Fire Fighters of Tri-County PAC was the same amount contributed by the two Mehlville firefighters groups, she said, “Not at this time, no.”

MFPD union employees formerly were members of IAFF Local 1889, but joined IAFF Local 2665 in September 2011.

Two years ago, Klund unsuccessfully challenged Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer. In that race, Klund and his supporters spent $100,000 on his behalf.

Mike for Mehlville Fire — Klund’s committee — and Friends of the Mehlville Fire District — a separate committee formed to support his campaign — raised $100,657.24 and spent $99,534.92 for the 2011 fire board race.

Local 1889 contributed a total of $78,502.24 to both committees. In addition, the national IAFF office contributed $14,700 to Klund’s committee.

Steve Strobl, an MFPD captain, served as treasurer of the Fire Fighters Action Committee to Elect, Mehlville Fire Fighters L-1889. That PAC was terminated Jan. 9, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Contacted last week about the $50,000 contribution to the Professional Fire Fighters of Tri-County PAC from “Mehlville Fire Fighters,” Strobl told the Call, “The person you need to talk to is Jen Stuhlman … That’s our contact person, so you’ll have to talk to her.”

The Local 1889 committee’s termination report included a transfer of $1,434.42 to “Mehlville Firefighters.” The report listed Douglas Weck, an MFPD lieutenant, as the “person responsible for maintaining records.” Weck was unavailable for comment before the Call’s press time.

Asked about “Mehlville Fire Fighters,” Stuhlman said, “To my knowledge, they’re a group of firefighters that work for the Mehlville Fire Protection District.”

Asked about the source of the $50,000, she said, “I don’t know. You’d have to look at their disclosure reports as mandated by the law.”

When the Call told Stuhlman it was unable to find a “Mehlville Fire Fighters” disclosure report, she said, “Then I guess there’s none mandated by the law.”

As previously reported by the Call, Ryan filed a lawsuit Jan. 28 against Klund and the county Board of Election Commissioners that sought to have Klund removed from the April 2 ballot. Ryan is seeking his second six-year term on the board.

In the suit, Ryan contended Klund was not qualified to be a candidate in the April election because “upon information and belief, Defendant Klund has not paid his St. Louis County personal property taxes for the year 2012, which were due on or before Dec. 31, 2012.”

Klund had owed $295.15 — $283.69 in personal property tax, $5.67 in interest and $5.79 in penalties — for 2012, according to the county Department of Revenue’s website. The $295.15 was paid Jan. 28 — the date the suit was filed — according to the website.

In his ruling that Klund would remain on the ballot, County Circuit Court Judge Michael T. Jamison noted that Ryan contended Klund should be disqualified as a candidate “for failing to timely pay personal property taxes” pursuant to Missouri Statute 115.342 — “tax delinquencies for public officers” — and Statutes 115.346 and 71.005 — “tax delinquencies for municipal offices.”

In his response, Klund contended Statute 115.342 “does not apply to candidates for ‘special district’ office.”

In his Feb. 19 ruling, Jamison agreed the Mehlville Fire Protection District is a “special district” under Section 115.013(26).

Therefore, Jamison wrote, Statutes 115.342, 15.346 and 71.005 “do not apply to ‘special districts.'”

“Michael Klund’s name shall remain on the April 2, 2013, election ballot as a candidate for the office of director of the Mehlville Fire Protection District,” Jamison ruled.

In his ruling, Jamison wrote, “The parties shall bear their own costs, including attorneys’ fees, associated with this litigation.”

Klund was represented by attorney Rick Barry, who in the past represented members of the now-defunct Local 1889.

Barry’s firm currently represents IAFF Local 2665 and the Missouri State Council of Firefighters, among other clients.

Ryan initially was represented by attorney Mathew Hoffman, who also serves as legal counsel for the fire district. In an amended petition filed Feb. 1, Ryan also named the Mehlville Fire Protection District as a defendant. He was represented by attorney James Bax.