San Diego, Calif. (Sept. 13, 2016) – Today, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) was put on notice that it should immediately cease and desist its illegal spending of public dollars on political campaigning for Measure A. In a letter sent to the agency, Measure A opponents outline several instances where SANDAG has violated election code and crossed the line from public education to political campaigning.
The letter notes, “The San Diego Association of Governments’ repeated use of public funds to promote Measure A is a blatant violation of the law, which clearly prohibits the use of public funds to promote the passage of ballot measures…..Because its communications violate civil and criminal laws prohibiting the use of public funds to support a ballot measure, we demand SANDAG immediately remove all materials from its website and social media, and cease and desist using any public resources that promote passage of Measure A – including the use of publicly paid staff and consultants to do so on the agency’s behalf.”
Ms. Pat Zaharopoulos, Esq., President/CEO of the Middle Class Taxpayers Association noted, “This is a shocking abuse of public trust, not to mention valuable tax dollars. Enough is enough. This rogue agency is illegally peddling Measure A on the taxpayer’s dime. Measure A is deceptive in that it will increase traffic and has no guarantees to build out and modernize our public transportation system – all while taxing our children and grandchildren.”
California Penal Code section 424 prohibits state and local officers charged with the oversight or disbursement of public funds from using such funds for any purpose not authorized by law. Government Code Section 54964 prohibits an officer, employee or consultant of a local agency from expending or authorizing the expenditure of any local agency funds to support or oppose the approval or rejection of a ballot measure by the voters.
Nicole Capretz, Executive Director of the Climate Action Campaign, commented, “Measure A locks us into a 40-year sales tax increase that harms public health, does nothing to relieve traffic congestion and makes our climate crisis worse. The same officials who are asking voters to hand over billions in taxpayer dollars are mishandling public funds. How can we trust them with accountability and oversight over our hard-earned tax dollars when we can’t trust them to follow basic laws?”
Measure A opponents include environmental, public health and social justice organizations, transit advocates, elected leaders, businesses and working families from across San Diego County. These allies oppose Measure A’s harmful 40-year tax that gives a blank check to government bureaucrats with no guarantees to relieve traffic congestion, reduce air pollution or meet state targets to address climate change. These allies advocate for a better vision that addresses climate and modernizes San Diego’s transportation system for the 21st century.