BART is facing a spate of complaints that it's using public resources to campaign for Measure RR, the $3.5 billion infrastructure bond on next Tuesday's ballot.
State Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, an outspoken BART critic and Measure RR opponent, filed a complaint Oct. 16 with the state Fair Political Practices Commission that cited a pair of agency emails sent earlier this month.
Glazer's complaint notes the emails -- sent out with the subject lines "Get informed about Measure RR" and "What's threatening power to the people?" -- linked to articles on the bart.gov website describing the agency's infrastructure challenges and how the bond would help meet them. The articles also contain links to further information on BART's infrastructure plans.
"These emails, linking to BART's website and YouTube channel, describe the need to pass the Measure RR bond," Glazer wrote in his complaint to the FPPC. He added that he believed the communications, "produced and disseminated by BART at public expense," violated provisions of the state's Political Reform Act.
"The general rule is that things have to be informational, not advocacy," Jay Wierenga, the FPPC's communications director, said Tuesday.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said in an email that all of the transit system's Measure RR-related materials are educational.
"BART can educate the public about the measure -- we just cannot advocate," she said.
A second FPPC complaint, filed by Lafayette attorney Jason Bezis last week, focuses on a video posted on a BART YouTube channel that feature Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green urging viewers "to show BART some love" by taking trains to the team's home games at Oakland's Oracle Arena.
Bezis, also a Measure RR opponent, contends that the video and BART social media messages referring to it use a series of phrases nearly identical to those employed by the formal Yes on RR campaign: "BART is the backbone of the Bay Area," "BART needs to stay safe and reliable" and "44 years."
"I don't think it's an accidental coincidence that Draymond Green spoke the words 'safe and reliable' because that is the main message that the Yes on RR campaign is promoting for the bond measure," Bezis said in an interview Tuesday. "It was completely unnecessary for them to be included in this so-called public service announcement."
Trost said via email that the Warriors "gave us the video to use as part of joint efforts that date back many years to promote taking BART to the game. We do this with other sports teams and events as well." She said BART did not pay for the video and had no role in writing Green's script.
Bezis filed a second FPPC complaint against BART, alleging that a June video posted by the agency also violated the prohibition on spending public funds on a political campaign. The video, shot immediately after the BART board voted to place Measure RR on the November ballot, showed agency officials and community activists expressing support for the bond.
FPPC spokesman Wierenga declined to comment on the specific complaints, but said the agency is bound by regulation to finish its initial review of complaints within 14 days, with the possibility of a 14-day extension.