It’s almost certainly just a simple tracking code used by the site’s owners when sending out mass emails. The email is being sent by the suntimes server on behalf of the SDMB (not surprisingly since the former owns the latter). The mail server converts links in the email to this tracking URL so that it can, well, track how many people click on the link. It’s obviously more useful in marketing or promotional messages where you want to see how many clickthroughs you get. In this case they used the same mass email system and kept the link-tracking option “on,” either by design or just carelessness. It’s nothing nefarious, just a way for those doing the mailing to note which links get clicked on, and where the traffic comes from.
It’s certainly good to be cautious about where links are actually going, because it is a common phishing device, so I think it’s great that you noticed such things.
Fortunately, since we know the S-T owns the SDMB, in this case there’s nothing scary, just regular housekeeping stuff.