T-SPLOST Opponents Say Ad Campaign a Misuse of Taxpayer Money

The Atlanta Tea Party and other T-SPLOST opponents claim taxpayer money is being used to unfairly sway public opinion leading up to July’s referendum.

Most Atlantans have probably seen or heard at least one of the ads  produced by the Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network, a nonprofit set up to educate voters about the referendum.

Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party has seen the ads and she says they cross a line.

“They are not educating, they are taking a position, they have bias, they are advocating on behalf of the T-SPLOST.”

Since MAVEN is a 501(c)3 nonprofit barred from campaigning for political causes, Dooley and other Tea Party activists are filing complaints with the IRS.

MAVEN spokesman Burt Brantley denies the bias claim.

“Every minute they can have people talking about ‘what’s advocacy, what’s education who’s MAVEN’ it’s time people aren’t focusing on what this referendum will do, when the vote is, what the projects are.”

T-SPLOST opponents are also slamming several community improvement districts in Atlanta for using taxpayer money to support MAVEN.

“What they did by giving money to MAVEN was a violation of the Georgia constitution and it was illegal and we’re going to ask Attorney General Sam Olens to look at this,” said Dooley.

Tad Leithead, the chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District and the Atlanta Regional Commission, says district funds are being used appropriately.

“We have had attorneys who have said they’re educational so I’m very comfortable with the fact that it’s well within [the district’s] legal rights and its stated purpose to fund MAVEN for the purpose of educating the public,” said Leithead.

Meanwhile, the private advocacy group Citizens for Transportation Mobility recently released new TV and radio ads, and is now sending mailers in support of the penny sales tax.