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Prop. 6 sues to stop Caltrans crews from distributing campaign fliers

Proponent of Prop. 6, the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative, are accusing Caltrans workers of breaking state law and distributing Campaign fliers opposed to Prop 6.

Yes on Prop. 6 has filed ethics complaints with three law enforcement agencies. 

California law prohibits the use of taxpayer money to engage in a political campaign. However, Yes on Prop. 6 claims that happened on Hwy 78 near Ramona this week when a Caltrans work crew being paid taxpayer funds to work on a road project allegedly under the project traffic calming process to stop traffic and hand out “No on Prop 6” campaign fliers. Traffic was delayed 18-24 minutes.

Prop. 6 held a press conference Wednesday and released photos, video and witness testimony, along with a criminal complaint.  The video caught a Caltrans work crew member admitting 

he was “working with Caltrans” and “They just told me to hand it out.”  

Caltrans Director Laurie Berman  issued this statement: “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.”

“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,” declared Carl DeMaio, chairman of Yes on Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal Initiative. “This proves once again that Caltrans simply cannot be trusted to do what is right with our gas tax funds – they literally are using gas tax funds to support the distribution of campaign materials to raise the gas tax on working families.” 

The incident occurred along State Route 78 in San Diego County between Julian and Ramona on Tuesday, August 28, between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Caltrans contract and task order records confirm that a road project was scheduled for that stretch of highway. A Caltrans contractor assigned to the project was photographed at this site along with a Caltrans vehicle and supervisor. California state law prohibits the use of private contractors paid for by taxpayer funds for any political purpose.

“We demand an immediate investigation into this incident, we demand prosecution of the individuals involved, and we insist that the Governor instruct Caltrans to immediately cease any activities that could be interpreted as campaign activities,” DeMaio concluded. 

The Criminal Complaint was submitted to the San Diego County District Attorney, California Highway Patrol, and the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). The alleged criminal violations are detailed below.

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 nonmonetary contribution is ‘made’ by the contributor, and ‘receive” 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.”

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