Representative Bob Herron, a Bethel democrat, received a second ethics citation tied to his co-ownership of a school bus company.
Joyce Anderson is the administrator for the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics. She says the committee received a complaint about Herron’s participation in a vote on Senate Bill 57, in April 2013.
“It was regarding the per-pupil rate for transportation, set by the state,” Anderson says. “And then, the funding for transportation comes from state funds.”
Senate Bill 57 says that the state has to adjust its school bus rates every year to keep up with inflation.
Herron co-owns Golden Eagle Unlimited, LLC. The company has a contract with the state of Alaska to provide school bus service in the Bethel area.
When the bill came up, Herron voted for it without stating a conflict of interest.
According to statute, legislators aren’t allowed to vote if they have a substantial financial interest in the matter at hand. If they do, they are supposed to rescind their vote and declare a conflict of interest.
The Ethics Committee started investigating this complaint in November 2013 — right around the time they decided to cite Herron for failing to report his school bus contracts on state financial disclosures.
Anderson says that for this investigation, the Ethics Committee tried to determine how much of a stake Herron had in the legislation.
“And the committee felt that because the school bus contract was $930,000 in 2012, and for the 2013 contract, it was over a million [dollars], they felt that he did have a substantial conflict of interest,” Anderson says.
The state is currently playing Golden Eagle Unlimited $1.5 million annually for school bus service.
The Ethics Committee did not levy a fine against Herron for this violation, and they recommend no corrective action. In an email to KUCB, Herron wrote that he should have rescinded his vote.
“All through this ‘investigation,’ I said it was not intentional but there is no excuse,” Herron wrote.
Herron was previously fined $5,000 by the Ethics Committee and about $7,500 by the Alaska Public Offices Commission for omitting Golden Eagle Unlimited contracts from his financial disclosures.