04-30-14: Gas tax repeal group accuses Mass DOT of violating ethics law.
BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Supporters of a November ballot question that would repeal the automatic gas tax hikes are calling for an ethics investigation into the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
They say a DOT public relations staffer violated conflict of interest laws by sending out an email titled "Gas Tax Repeal Talking Points."
The group, led by former Congressional candidate Marty Lamb and State Representative Geoff Diehl counts as campaigning on official state time, using state resources.
"Clearly if the Department of Transportation has enough money to campaign on our dime, they don't need a tax increase," said Lamb, during a news conference outside the State House.
FOX 25 repeatedly tried to reach Secretary Richard Davey for comment through emails, texts and phone calls, but the agency refused to respond.
The email is dated March 26 and was written by Assistant Secretary of Communications Cyndi Roy Gonzalez.
Who received it? It was sent to Secretary Richard Davey, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott, and Registrar of Motor Vehicles Celia Blue, among others.
It reads, in part, "As we gear up to make our push to defeat the gas tax ballot question this November, will find these talking points helpful."
The email encourages them to share it freely with those who support the law. Governor Patrick told FOX 25's Sharman Sacchetti he "didn't know anything about it."
When asked if he believed anything untoward was going on, he responded, "I would be more than surprised if something untoward was done. I do want to be clear. I support the indexing of the gas tax."
A spokesman at the State Office of Campaign and Political Finance says public resources, like state emails cannot be used for political campaign purposes. The rules show appointed public officials are given some flexibility to present information for public debate and to speak publicly about ballot questions.