State watchdog calls for prosecution of BART for 2016 campaign violations

Glazer among prominent critics of agency using public funds in Measure RR race

The Fair Political Practices Commission Thursday called for the state attorney general's office and Bay Area district attorneys to investigate and possibly prosecute BART for violating state laws to support its bond measure in 2016.

The commission Thursday morning at its meeting in Sacramento approved by a 4-0 vote a $7,500 fine for BART after it found the transit agency used public funds for political purposes in the campaign for Measure RR, a $3.5 billion bond measure that ultimately passed in November 2016.

As part of the vote, the commission approved sending letters to the attorney general and district attorneys with jurisdiction over BART to investigate and prosecute the case and any others like it, since the commission only has jurisdiction of issues concerning the state Political Reform Act.

FPPC Commissioner Brian Hatch also proposed an item for next month's meeting to approve sending a letter to the state Legislature to draft a bill to allow the commission to have jurisdiction in these types of cases.

BART had used YouTube videos, social media posts and text messages to promote Measure RR, which needed voter approval to fund repairs and improvements to the train system.

According to the FPPC, the political actions caused BART to qualify as an independent expenditure committee, but the agency failed to timely file independent expenditure reports or campaign statements and failed to include a proper disclosure statement in its electronic media advertisements.

The commission could have fined BART more than $33,000 for the violations, and Tri-Valley State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), a vocal critic of the transit agency, earlier this week had called for the maximum fine to be levied.

Glazer issued a statement following the commission's actions Thursday, calling the motion urging investigation and prosecution "appropriate and necessary."

He said, "We must make it crystal clear to the more than 1,000 public agencies in California that they must follow the law by staying completely out of election campaigns."

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost wrote in an email, "We have worked cooperatively with the FPPC and have learned from the process."

Trost wrote, "The FPPC found that two of our videos and the use of text messages inadvertently crossed the line into advocacy. We accept their finding. It was accidental in nature and a commissioner and staff even acknowledged that today."

— Bay City News Service

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2 people like this
Posted by Charlie Brown
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 21, 2018 at 10:07 am

And where will the money come from to pay the fine?

2 people like this
Posted by Rob
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 21, 2018 at 11:45 am

Kudos to Senator Glazer for keeping a continuous close watch on BART - the most corrupt public entity in the state. But, I wonder, with all the wrongdoings BART is constantly being chastised for, when are some (BART Board) heads going to roll? If BART was a public corporation, half the boardmembers would've been ousted, and the other half resigned. Californians putting up with this crap is just sad and embarrassing.

2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 21, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Return land to cities, tax credit to taxpayers of ca

3 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 21, 2018 at 10:12 pm

$7,500 fine, what a joke only people laughing are the board members, it’s great to be at the top of the worst run transit system in the country, these clowns need to take their act on tour!! 8BCe4

1 person likes this
Posted by Robert S. Allen
a resident of Livermore
on Dec 22, 2018 at 3:46 am

BART's wrong-doing pales in comparison to the legislature passing AB 2923 and AB 758.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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