California’s Political Watchdog to Attorney General: Prosecute BART

Thursday, December 20, 2018

ORINDA – The state’s top political watchdog on Thursday asked local district attorneys and the attorney general to prosecute BART for its illegal use of public funds for political purposes.

Alice Germond, the Chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), said she wanted to send the message that the misuse of public funds is a serious offense. The FPPC has jurisdiction over only the Political Reform Act, and the law that forbids public agencies from using public funds for campaigns is under the penal code, So, the appropriate action was to refer the matter to prosecutors, she said.

“I want to send a message that the misuse of public money is wrong. I want to set a precedent that we are serious about this,” Germond said. “I want to make sure our public funds are not misused ever in California.”

Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, applauded the FPPC’s action:

“The Fair Political Practices Commission has correctly concluded that BART's illegal spending of the public's money in an election campaign is a matter of grave concern. Their adoption today (December 20) of a formal motion urging the Attorney General’s office and Bay Area District Attorney’s offices to conduct a full investigation into BART's illegal actions is appropriate and necessary.

“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. Officials in these public positions must be held accountable for adhering to the letter and spirit of the law. Aggressive and unbiased enforcement sends the right message to all those who are responsible for protecting the public trust. The FPPC is to be commended for their action. I urge the Attorney General and the DAs to act with dispatch to get the facts of the case and defend this important rule of law.”

The FPPC also approved a $7,500 fine against BART for its illegal expenditures during that 2016 Measure RR campaign.