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Video may show workers for Caltrans pushing gas tax

Posted: 5:10 PM, Aug 29, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-30 00:15:59Z

New video appears to show workers for Caltrans handing out campaign materials defending the state's recent gas tax increase while on the job. 

The video, shot Tuesday, was released by the Yes on 6 campaign, which is pushing to repeal the recent 12-cent-per-gallon hike on the November ballot. 

The video shows Yes on 6 campaign manager Matt Stockton in the drivers seat of a car. He is apparently stopped at a Caltrans contractor's site along the 78 near Ramona. The video shows a man in a hard hat approaching the window, handing Stockton what appears to be a No on 6 campaign flier defending the gas-tax increase.

Stockton in the video asks the man if he is with Caltrans, and the man answers that yes, his crew is working with Caltrans. Other images released by the campaign appear to show the workers were with Pico Rivera-based Manhole Adjusting Inc., and that a Caltrans supervisor was on site. 

"The misuse, the abuse of taxpayer funds being used in a political campaign, it is shameful, it is outrageous, and it needs to stop right now," said Carl DeMaio, who is chair of the Yes on 6 campaign. 

Caltrans, a state agency, said in a statement that it is looking into the matter, and has contacted its contractors to say it does not condone political advocacy on project sites. 

The No on 6 campaign, fighting to keep the gas tax increase, says it was unaware of the incident and that it denounces any inappropriate use of public resources or venues for campaign purposes.

"The No on 6 campaign very carefully follows all rules prohibiting the use of public resources for campaigning and often reinforces those rules to anyone involved with the campaign," the campaign said in a statement. 

Calls to the on-site Caltrans supervisor and Manhole Adjusting Inc were not immediately returned.

"If this is happening on more than one occasion, it's egregious," said Seth Kaplowitz, a finance lecturer at San Diego State University. "It's egregious because they know they're not supposed to be doing it."

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown and the state legislature raised the gas tax by 12 cents-per-gallon with future increases planned. Already, the state says more than $300 million have poured into San Diego to fix county roads and highways. 

The measure to repeal the tax increase will be on the November ballot.