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Todd Herman

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Senate investigation finds Sound Transit deceived voters

Sen. Mike Padden, (R-Spokane Valley) and Sen. Steve O'Ban (R-University Place) signed off the findings of the Senate Law and Justice Committee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The state Senate Law and Justice committee released its findings after a months-long investigation into Sound Transit’s ST3 campaign.

In 2016, the ST3 plan passed in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties by a vote of 54 percent to 46 percent. The proposition authorized an increase to car tab fees to pay for the $54 billion worth of construction, but many were surprised at just how much their car tab fees increased.

RELATED: Democrat says Republican ST3 report is “factually incorrect”

The outcry led to an investigation, and now Senators are releasing their findings.

“This is an agency that is out of control,” State Senator Steve O’Ban told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “We need to get to a point where we elect the board directly and not have [King County Executive] Dow Constantine appoint a majority of Sound Transit.”

O’Ban is a member of the Senate Law and Justice Committee and he lead the questioning of Sound Transit leaders during the committee’s investigative hearings.

He says they found Sound Transit never disclosed to the voters that the MSRP guidelines the agency wanted to use to determine vehicle value was outdated.

“We looked at their voter guide that they’re statutorily required to send out to voters prior to the November 2016 vote,” O’Ban said. “Nowhere does it mention the MSRP-based schedule. Its website is devoid of any mention of it.”

The investigation, as well as some legal experts, determined this lack of explicit disclosure was a violation of the state constitution.

O’Ban also accused Sound Transit of violating the law by giving money to a third-party lobbying firm in order to secure more funding.

The Transportation Choices Coalition is a non-profit organization that, according to its website, seeks to expand transportation options in Washington state and educate residents about other ways to get around besides driving alone. O’Ban says they found documents showing Sound Transit paid Transportation Choices $350,000 over the last ten years to lobby on their behalf.

“That was an actual performance that Sound Transit paid Transportation Choices to perform on their behalf to get it more funding,” O’Ban said, “and it was successful, but that violated the law of Sound Transit using state resources to lobby through Transportation Choices.”

You can hear the full interview with O’Ban here.

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