The Alaska Public Offices Commission has ordered that state Senate candidate Bob Bell pay a $390 fine for failing to fully disclose his company’s clients as required by APOC. Bell, 69, is a Republican running in a district encompassing West Anchorage, Turnagain and Sand Lake against Democratic incumbent state Sen. Hollis French.
The initial issue with Bell's disclosure was that he didn't list the companies that contracted with F. Bell & Associates, an engineering consultancy firm, as was required, according to APOC staff. The commission's staff investigates complaints and writes reports in advance of APOC meetings.
Because those disclosure rules were recently changed, however, the staff report did not recommend that Bell be fined. Bell also said that he received bad information from APOC when he asked what was supposed to be disclosed.
Bell subsequently included Bell & Associates' client list, totaling 187 names, among them BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and other oilfield service contractors. The amount paid by these companies to Bell & Associates totaled more than $7.6 million. Later, after another complaint, Bell itemized the contracts, which included a contract with BP that was worth at least $1 million in 2011.
At the heart of the race is the oil tax debate, and whether or not the state should give the oil industry a tax break worth up to $2 billion a year. French has been one of the most vocal senators against the tax break. Bell supports it and enjoys the political backing of the oil industry as well as Gov. Sean Parnell.
The maximum fine would have been $780. However, because of the confusion spawned by the new regulations, the commission cut that by half.
It was also recently reported by Alaska Dispatch that Bell is being investigated by the Alaska State Troopers for possible violations while he was on a controversial 2010 hunt.