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LETTER: Flier opposing Columbia school bond issue is a hoax

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:57 p.m. CDT, Friday, March 26, 2010

Hijacking! Foul play! Propaganda! Those are strong, but accurate, terms for a flier opposing the Columbia school bond's passage.

At a Muleskinners luncheon meeting on March 5, a woman handed me a pink flier strongly opposing the school bond issue in Columbia. The fliers have the name, address, phone number, Web site and facts of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. No information identified any other group or source of funding. It seemed strange to me for a reputable St. Louis foundation to passionately oppose Columbia school bonds. So, I phoned the number of the Foundation listed on the flier and talked to Faith Sandler, executive director of the Foundation.

In her words: “Not only is the piece of literature in question NOT of our making, but it is inconsistent with any stand that The Scholarship Foundation has ever taken on any matter of public policy.”

Then how did the Foundation become involved in opposing Columbia school bonds?

Sandler explained: Printed materials brought to a conference at MU on March 2 disappeared. Someone “hijacked our identity”... printing on the back of something they picked up at our table. They turned it “into a two-sided fliermisrepresenting the Scholarship Foundation.”

Who engaged in this foul play?

Sandler noted: “In very, very tiny print on the side that was printed by someone else is a Myspace citation, which traces to a doctoral student at MU.” She said that she is in the process of trying to contact the female student. She asked that her clarification be read at the next Muleskinner’s meeting. I read the complete statement on March 12. It ends with: “The Scholarship Foundation is not involved in the production of the propaganda in question.”

Support of or opposition to a school bonds issue is a citizen’s civil right. Misrepresentation and misappropriation of another organization’s material is not a right. It may be a misdemeanor or felony, especially since the hijacking used another group’s name and did not involve the name or funding source of the individual or group that in fact is engaging in this negative campaign.


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