In about-face, Metro decides to run 'Buy American' ads

SEATTLE -- All TAP America wants to do is to get consumers to think about where they spend their money.

"People don't even realize that they have the power to influence and make change happen with their purchasing dollars," said Richard Tso, executive director of the group.

TAP stands for tolerance, Americanism, patriotism. The Seattle group's founder Mark Bloome says he believes buying American products is the way to get the economy going.

"We know that if you spend $100 on local goods and services, it's actually going to add $500 to the economy," Bloome said.

So to spread that word, TAP America went to Metro Transit, prepared to spend $8,000 to put ads on 45 Metro buses.

But Bloome says Metro turned down the offer. According to an email exchange between Metro and an ad company, Metro, citing its policy that prohibits public issue ads, said the "proposed ad should not be accepted."

"We had no idea this would be a controversial issue," Bloome said. "We were astounded when we got rejected."

But on Thursday, Metro Transit said it has decided to accept the ads. The transit agency added recent media reports had nothing to do with its apparent change of heart.

Instead, an email from Metro said it was simply in the process of working with TAP, and "...upon further evaluation, the text of the ad does not express an opinion about a public issue. Therefore, we will allow it to run."

"Well, if buying American is a political issue, that's a sad state for our country," said Bloome.

TAP said ironically, the group had initially chosen to advertise with Metro because the group was trying to spend its money locally, as well.