Last week, Sound Transit sent out an online survey allegedly just doing outreach to learn what the public thinks about its plans for a very expensive Sound Transit 3 (ST3) package. However, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), a question that “seeks to gauge why people would be willing to support this fall’s ballot measure to fund it” most likely broke state law.
The question appears to be meant to help Sound Transit use public resources to help determine messaging strategies for its campaign leading up to November. The problem is that state law prohibits spending public funds for political purposes.
PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson told the Seattle Times, “In my opinion, the survey wording suggests that Sound Transit is trying to gauge what voters will approve, which would be an inappropriate use of their resources.”
Sound Transit removed the question from its survey on Friday. A spokesperson insisted that the question was “intended to help guide how we talk about the rationale for the plan” but admitted that it had not been checked by Sound Transit’s legal staff.
That’s probably because Sound Transit did not care to know whether or not the question abides by state law. As the Seattle Times points out, the question is nearly identical to those used by polling firms to “help political campaigns determine which messages resonate with voters and are used to help get a measure approved or a candidate elected.”
The question reads, “Here are some reasons people have given for developing the ST3 Draft Plan. After each, please rate which makes you much more likely, somewhat more likely, somewhat less likely, or much less likely to support the ST3 draft plan.”
It then asks poll respondents “about a variety of specific rationales for supporting ST3, with a range of numbered bubbles to gauge the strength of their support.”
Sounds like Sound Transit broke state law, and hoped to get away with it. Of course, it’s the kind of tactics you can expect from the Left. And, you can expect more of the same before November.
After all, it’s taxpayer money they’re spending, so they don’t to be that careful with it.