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Board member's mailer sparks another controversy

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Posted at 7:35 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-18 08:35:52-04

Will Nash is drawing more critics on the Fayette County School Board and in the community for another outreach, this time with a postcard sent to thousands of people in Lexington.

It is not the content of the cards, but a potential conflict of interest and the discount he got using the school district's name.

Fourteen thousand Lexingtonians opened up their mailboxes last week to find a card that appeared to be sent from Fayette Public Schools. In actuality, it is from School Board candidate Will Nash, who already caused controversy for sending a text to parents and guardians via numbers that were given to the schools for the directory.

The post card that arrived in mailboxes lists statements about Nash, including some that are identical to verbiage on his campaign website. It also says that he wants "to hear from you," directing recipients to another website.

That site asks for a name and email address for a 10-question survey. Nash told LEX 18 that the survey was all about getting to know his constituents.

"My intent was to try and create more avenues and to make it easy. You know, the first thing that I received as a new Board member was a board cell phone and a Board email address and that signals to me that communication is important," said Nash.

A Fayette County Schools teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, is among several others who reached out to tell us that something about the card felt off.

"Why are we deceiving people into feeling like they got a mailer from the school system and now being told. It wasn't from the school system," the teacher told LEX 18.

If Nash wanted opinions from those in his district, parents, teachers and other board members, why didn't he send it out when he joined the board last Fall?

Nash said it is simply because he just thought of the post card idea and it has nothing to do with his campaign.

"As I shared, there's an election in District 1 in November and there's an election in District 1 next November," Nash explained. "So, there's literally no time that I might not be campaigning. So that's a criticism that I just have to bear because, because there will be critics and that's the nature of public service, I think."

After his use of phone numbers from the District, parents and teachers say they are concerned if they enter their email on to Mr. Nash's website, it will be used for his campaign.

Nash offers a simple solution for those who have that concern: enter fake information.

More red flags were raised over the postal code in the corner of the postcard, showing it was mailed with the District’s non-profit code. This week, Nash handed over receipts that he said proves he paid the $4,400 for the mailers.

LEX 18's Claire Kopsky called the company that mailed the postcards and asked them for a quote on 14,000 mailers. Their quote suggested Nash saved more than $1,600 in shipping using the district's code.

On Monday night, Stephanie Spires, the chair of the Fayette County School Board, read a statement at their public meeting. She revealed that Nash asked the Board Attorney if he could use the District's postal "preferred" rate.

"Postal rules would require the mailer to indicate that it is from the School District, as a nonprofit/governmental organization. This would appear to create a conflict, since you are apparently desiring that the contents be yours, rather than subject to the input of the other board members," Spires read from the attorney’s response.

The attorney suggested Nash ask Lexington's postmaster if using the discount was okay but Spires said Nash admitted he never did.

Nash said he made a "mistake" going against the attorney's advice and apologized to the board.

It is not the first time Nash has found himself in a sticky situation. Back in 2005, Nash was elected student body president at the University of Kentucky. Then a lawsuit was filed, claiming he used a University Tax Exemption number while purchasing campaign supplies, among other violations. After months of a court battle, which made national news, Nash never took office.

The spokesperson for Fayette County Public Schools said the District did not print, pay for, or know about the mailing ahead of time. As for any consequences, the Board chair accepted Nash's apology Monday night and said she hopes the Board and the community can move on.

As for the campaign text blast LEX 18 reported last week, we are told several people have filed formal complaints with state agencies.