The group behind a bill to repeal the gas tax is demanding an ethics probe of transportation officials they say used taxpayer-funded resources for political purposes by sending out a talking-points email openly declaring the agency’s “push to defeat” the ballot question.

“When citizens go to the trouble of collecting signatures and all the efforts that’s involved in putting something on the ballot, they shouldn’t be going up against the well-financed superpower of the government, who fights against them,” said Gregory Sullivan of the Pioneer Institute and a former state Inspector General.

“The secretary of transportation should immediately take action to make sure this doesn’t happen again and to take appropriate action against the people involved. Everybody in government knows you’re not supposed to use your office for political purposes for campaigns — period.”