APOC Staff Recommend Waiving Fine Against Bell, Decision Expected Tuesday

Bob Bell. Photo from aksenaterepublicans.com.

Alaska Public Offices Commission staff say that Alaska State Senate Candidate Bob Bell violated campaign finance reporting law. But they are recommending that the fine against Bell be waived.

Bob Bell is running as a Republican Candidate in Anchorage’s Senate District J, against incumbent Democratic Candidate Hollis French. Bell has been under investigation by APOC because he did not disclose information he should have about clients and how much they paid an engineering firm in which he holds a controlling interest, according to APOC standards.  Bell explains his side of the story during an interview with KAKM.

“I did not drag my feet to disclose my clients. When we called APOC when I filed they said I didn’t need to give them the list because I didn’t own the company any more. So we didn’t. They called us back in and said, ‘the rules changed’ so now you do and we immediately gave them the list,” Bell said.

Bell says he thinks the APOC staff’s recommendation was fair. In August Edward Cullinane filed a complaint with APOC detailing several instances of misreported or unreported personal finances in Bell’s financial disclosure statement. Two of the allegations involve the engineering F.R. Bell & Associates. Bell started the engineering firm in 1974, but sold the company to a trust in 2007, maintaining the positions of CEO, President, Treasurer and Director. The regulation that the commission says Bell is in violation of went into effect Dec. 11, 2011.  It requires those filing for political office to disclose information about all sources of income over $1,000. One of the clients Bell did not originally disclose was British Petroleum, which paid his company more than a million dollars in 2011. Bell should have submitted the information about BP, along with the firms other clients when he filed for candidacy, but he did not. Paul Dauphenais is the Executive Director of APOC. He says APOC staff recommended waiving the fine for a number of reasons.

“One the regulation has only recently been put in effect and recently means less than a year in this case. In the past the commission has waived fines for those people who were subject to a new law or regulation. Mr. Bell was very cooperative. Whenever we asked him for something, for records to review, he was very forthcoming. He responded to us promptly, brought things into our office to review,” Dauphenais said.

The Commission is expected to make a decision Tuesday. There were a total of three allegations. APOC staff recommended Bell be found in violation for one of them. The total maximum, recommended fine for the violation is $780. Staff costs total around $500. The total potential cost for Bell could be just over $1,000.

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Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.