Updated 11:35 a.m. Friday
California's political watchdog agency took the unusual step Thursday of asking prosecutors to investigate whether BART violated state laws that prohibit spending taxpayer funds on political campaigns.
Even as it approved a $7,500 fine against BART for campaign disclosure violations connected to the campaign for a $3.5 billion bond measure in 2016, the Fair Political Practices Commission voted to ask the state attorney general and the district attorneys in three Bay Area counties to launch criminal inquiries into whether the transit agency broke laws beyond the commission's jurisdiction.
The fine penalized BART for improperly spending about $7,800 in support of Measure RR. The measure -- on the ballot in its three core counties of Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco -- proposed raising property taxes to support an agency effort to improve its tracks, tunnels, computer systems and other infrastructure. It passed with an overall 70 percent yes vote.
The size of the fine drew complaints -- most notably from state Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, a longtime BART critic -- that the penalty was little more than a slap on the wrist. Glazer urged the FPPC to scrap the proposed fine, which its staff had negotiated with the transit agency, and impose the maximum fine of about $33,000. Glazer had also called for state and local prosecutors to look into the case.