- Associated Press - Saturday, August 20, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - Sound Transit, the mass-transit agency for King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, has acknowledged that it improperly gave the email addresses of nearly 173,000 customers to a political campaign promoting an expansion of mass transit in the region.

The agency turned over the email addresses of customers who hold transit passes called ORCA cards to Mass Transit Now!, the campaign for ST3, the $54 ?billion light-rail expansion measure voters will consider on the November ballot, The Seattle Times reported (https://goo.gl/BcfQD9 ).

Personal information about the pass-holders is protected by the ORCA privacy statement. In addition, state law exempts governments in Washington from disclosing public transit pass holders’ personal identifying information and bars government agencies from using public resources to promote a political campaign.

Spokesman Geoff Patrick said Sound Transit gave the information to the campaign after its proponents filed a public-records request for the agency’s email subscribers lists.

“It turns out our response to the campaign was more broadly construed than it should have been,” Patrick said.

Sound Transit has since notified the campaign and asked it to remove all the improperly sent email addresses from its files and to no longer use them to contact potential voters. The campaign said it would do so.

“If there’s protected records that they wouldn’t give to you or I, then they shouldn’t be giving those to the campaign,” Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, said Friday. “That’s a restriction on using public facilities to support a political campaign’s ballot initiative.”

The Seattle Times raised the issue to Sound Transit on Thursday after an ORCA cardholder contacted the newspaper. The Seattle man said he uses a specific email address as a contact to the ORCA program, and he was surprised to receive campaign email there because he didn’t give permission for Sound Transit to share it.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com


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