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Technology Kentucky election: Rural teachers get anti-Beshear emails

23:40  08 october  2019
23:40  08 october  2019 Source:   courier-journal.com

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Teachers in at least seven rural Kentucky school districts are receiving anti-Andy Beshear messages sent to their district-issued email accounts weeks before November's election.

An email titled "The Truth About Andy Beshear" landed in the school email accounts of teachers in Henderson, Ohio, Allen, Livingston, Crittenden and Calloway counties over the past two weeks. Teachers in Paducah Independent Schools also got the email.

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The email, a copy of which was shared with The Courier Journal, claims Beshear is a "proud member of the liberal Obama-Clinton-Beshear Connection."

The Democrat will raise taxes, begin "a new war on Kentucky coal" and cause health care costs to jump if elected, the writer claims.

The email concludes without a direct call to vote for Gov. Matt Bevin, Beshear's opponent, but ends by again tying Beshear to other well-known Democrats.

"Now, folks, let me encourage you to remember to vote, to Remember In November, and above all, to remember the name of: Andy Obama," the email reads.

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Jacqueline Coleman, Beshear's running mate and a former school administrator, said in a statement that she has seen how Bevin's "war on public education hurts our kids and our communities."

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“No amount of desperate smears can make Kentuckians forget how Matt Bevin has bullied teachers, going so far as to lock us out of our capitol and investigating us by scouring sign-in logs and surveillance footage when we showed up to protest his many attempts to tear down public education," Coleman said in a statement in response to the email.

The emails appear to be sent to large chunks of each district's staff directories, with recipients organized in alphabetical order.

Susan Brown, who represents the Western Kentucky districts in the KY 120 United advocacy group, was surprised the email made it through information technology blockers and into inboxes.

District servers tend to catch lengthy emails from outside the district, but only one district — Calloway County — blocked some of the emails, according to Brown and Nema Brewer, the KY 120 United founder.

It is "crunch time" for teachers in the 120 Strong movement who are canvassing for Beshear, Brown said. Then all of the sudden, these emails happen, she said.

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"It doesn't make us too happy," Brown said of the emails.

The email comes from a personal email account from an "Albert Wells," but Brown and others think it may be an account used to contact teachers en masse. A message to the account from The Courier Journal was not returned.

Bevin's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the emails.

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Beshear is largely considered the favorite of the teacher voting bloc, particularly of those involved in teacher activism circles such as KY 120 United. Over the past months, educators have been canvassing and sending out postcards in support of him, hoping to deny Bevin a second term.

Earlier this week, at least four smaller rural newspapers in Kentucky ran an opinion column from Bluegrass Institute CEO Jim Waters tying stagnant test scores to teacher protests.

The Courier Journal did not receive a copy of the op-ed for consideration, but Waters said that was an oversight. His op-ed is not tied to the Bevin campaign, he said.

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“Matt Bevin has already shamefully and unjustifiably blamed teachers for the sexual abuse of children, so it’s no surprise his allies are following suit," Coleman, Beshear's running mate, said in a statement Tuesday. "We need leaders who will listen to and support educators and prioritize public education — not tear us down for political gain."

Many Kentucky districts don't allow teachers to use district-issued email accounts for political purposes.

Using Kentucky's public records law, the Kentucky GOP requested emails from teachers' district accounts last fall to identify educators misusing their work accounts for political activism.

The requests, the GOP spokesman said then, stemmed from mentions "about a lot of extremely, directly political email traffic going through the school system on teachers' emails."

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Reach Olivia Krauth at [email protected] or 502-582-4471, and on Twitter at @oliviakrauth. Support strong local journalism by subscribing: courier-journal.com/subscribe.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky election: Rural teachers get anti-Beshear emails

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