San Diego, CA.-Drawing parallels to the New Jersey Bridgegate scandal, supporters of the "Yes on 6" effort to repeal the Gas Tax Measure in California, have sent letters to to three agencies urging the filing of criminal charges against Caltrans for appearing to hand out "No on 6" campaign materials to motorists while traffic was stopped on the 78.
California state law prohibits the use of taxpayer money to engage in a political campaign.
Caught On Tape
Here is the YouTube video the campaign posted that appears to show a Caltrans vendor handing out campaign materials.
IVN San Diego reached out to Caltrans for a response. Here is the statement we received:
“Caltrans is looking into the matter, but It is our understanding that these individuals were private contractors not Caltrans employees. Regardless, the Department does not condone political advocacy or the distribution of campaign information on work project sites and is contacting its contractors to remind them of this.”
"Shameful and Outrageous"
Carl DeMaio, chairman of the Yes on 6 campaign, says it's a violation of state law.
"It is shameful, it is outrageous, it is criminal and it needs to stop right now," DeMaio said.
According to witnesses, workers with Manhole Adjusting Inc., under the management of Caltrans, stopped traffic along the 78 near Sutherland Dan Road near Ramona to hand out flyers encouraging them to vote no on Prop 6.
A 'Yes' vote would repeal the 12 cent gas tax that's supposed to raise money for road repairs. A 'No' vote would keep the tax in place.
DeMaio says state law prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for campaign activities or advocacy,"There is absolutely no grey area here, Caltrans is caught in blatant violation of California law that prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for campaign activities or advocacy. This proves once again that Caltrans simply cannot be trusted to do what is right with our gas tax funds," he said.
Criminal Charges Urged
DeMaio said he has sent letters to the San Diego District Attorney’s office, the California Highway Patrol and the California Fair Political Practices Commission urging the filing of criminal charges for misuse of public resources for a campaign activity as well as not reporting in-kind political contributions.
The letters to the agencies include the following complaints:
California Government Code Section 8314 declares “It is unlawful for any elected state or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, to use or permit others to use public resources for a campaign activity, or personal or other purposes which are not authorized by law.”
California Vehicle Code Division 11, Section 22000 declares “No person shall bring a vehicle to a complete stop upon a highway so as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic unless the stop is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.”
The Regulations of the Fair Political Practices Commission, Title 2, Division 6, California Code of Regulations Section 18420 declares: “Reporting Campaign Contributions and Expenditures by State or Local Government Agencies. (a) Any candidate or committee that receives contributions from a state or local government agency must report receipt of those contributions… Nothing in this regulation should be read as condoning or authorizing campaign-related activities by a state or local government agency. Under many circumstances, such activities may be illegal. See Penal Code section 424; Government Code section 54964.”
The Regulations of the Fair Political Practices Commission, Title Title 2, Division 6, California Code of Regulations Section 18421.1 declares: “Disclosure of the Making and Receipt of Contributions. (f) A non-monetary contribution is “made” by the contributor, and “received” by the candidate or committee, on the earlier of the following dates: (1) The date that funds are expended by the contributor for goods or services, if the specific expenditure is made at the behest of the candidate or committee