MTC Caught Red-Handed in Regional Measure 3 Campaign Violations

TRANSDEF today filed a Complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) alleging that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and BATA, its alter ego, illegally expended public resources to promote passage of Regional Measure 3 (RM3). In addition, the Complaint alleges that MTC/BATA illegally coordinated with the Yes on RM3 campaign, engaged in impermissible express advocacy, and then failed to report these efforts as campaign expenditures.

Exactly one year ago today, voters gave a 55% approval to RM3, a bridge toll increase expected to raise $4.5 billion. While the first of three increases has already gone into effect, the funds are held in escrow because the measure is still tied up in court.

Exhibits attached to the Complaint prove that video materials produced by MTC were incorporated directly into the TV spots created by the Yes on RM3 campaign.

The Complaint names virtually the entire Bay Area Transportation Establishment: MTC/BATA; Bay Area Council; its CEO Jim Wunderman; the Silicon Valley Leadership Group; its CEO Carl Guardino; and SPUR. It also names public agencies for illegal coordination: the Water Emergency Transportation Authority; AC Transit; the San Francisco Transportation Authority; and the Solano Transportation Authority.

The Complaint and its Exhibits expose the illegal techniques used by the Bay Area Transportation Establishment to move public opinion to support its favored projects:

  • Create video clips at public expense for use in campaign ads
  • Hire a consultant to develop the measure, who then runs the campaign
  • Create a one-sided video presentation of the measure [express advocacy]
  • Induce public agency recipients of funding from the measure to show the video

TRANSDEF is a Bay Area environmental non-profit with a 25-year history of advocating for pro-transit policies and funding decisions at MTC. The Bay Area’s massive highway congestion is the result of MTC’s refusal to listen. TRANSDEF led the environmental opposition to Regional Measure 3 with its website

TRANSDEF’s co-complainant is the Bay Area Transportation Working Group, an all-volunteer organization formed in 2012 to monitor and respond to ongoing Bay Area transportation issues and events. BATWG is dedicated to finding ways of easing regional traffic congestion by improving the reliability and general appeal of the region’s passenger rail and bus systems.

TRANSDEF engaged the Law Offices of Jason Bezis for this complaint, due to his success in getting the FPPC to discipline BART for similar violations. Our attorney has an extensive background in transportation policy.

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