Campaign Watchdog Doesn’t Go Far Enough in Ruling on BART’s Illegal Use of the Public’s Money During Measure RR campaign
ORINDA – The state’s campaign watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, has fined BART for failing to disclose illegal use of the public’s money on YouTube videos and social media posts to promote its $3.5 billion bond, Measure RR.
Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, issued this statement in response:
“This decision ignores BART’s most egregious offense during the Measure RR campaign – the district’s illegal use of public money for political purposes.
“California law prohibits a public agency from using public money to campaign for or against a ballot measure, and BART clearly did that.
“The district’s improper actions included Its purchase of YouTube videos promoting the measure, its posting of those videos on its social media websites, and its sending of a text message to several hundred thousand potential voters that the even the FPPC described as an “electronic media advertisement.”
“These advertisements took advantage of a massive social media network built over the years by BART with public funds to help riders get information about the system, and this network was not intended to serve as the foundation for a political campaign.
“The FPPC was correct to sanction BART for failing to properly disclose this illegal spending. But because of its narrow jurisdiction, the commission appeared to ignore the spending itself. I urge the attorney general’s office to investigate that spending immediately.”
To view the full 13-page ruling which resulted in a $7,500 fine, you may visit the FPPC Website which highlights how BART utilized
3. In the Matter of San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART); FPPC No. 16/19959. Staff: Commission Counsel Ruth Yang and Special Investigator Garrett Micheels. The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is a public transportation system that serves the San Francisco Bay Area. BART was represented by BART General Counsel Matthew Burrows. BART used YouTube videos, social media posts, and text messages to promote Measure RR, which authorized BART to issue $3.5 billion in general obligation bonds, causing them to qualify as an independent expenditure committee. BART failed to timely file two late independent expenditure reports in the 90-day period preceding the November 8, 2016 General Election, in violation of Government Code Section 84204 (1 count); failed to timely file a semi-annual campaign statement for the period covering July 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016, in violation of Government Code Section 84200, subdivision (b) (1 count); and failed to include a proper disclosure statement in its electronic media advertisements, in violation of Government Code Section 84506, subdivision (a) (1 count). Total Proposed Penalty: $7,500.