The Alaska Public Offices Commission on Wednesday ordered state Senate candidate Bob Bell to pay a $390 fine for failing to disclose the clients of his engineering firm and the fees that they paid.
In its order, the commission rejected a report by its staff that the fine be waived because the regulation requiring the disclosure was relatively new, passed by the commission in 2011. The bipartisan commission ruled there was no basis in law for waiving the entire fine for that reason.
Instead, it reduced the civil penalty by 50 percent from the maximum $780, citing Bell's "good filing history" and the new regulation.
Bell, a Republican, is trying to unseat Sen. Hollis French, a Democrat, in Senate District J, which includes West Anchorage, Turnagain and Sand Lake. Bell is heavily backed by the oil industry and its business supporters who are seeking lower production taxes on the industry. French is a member of the bipartisan coalition that controls the Senate and rejected tax cuts sought by Gov. Sean Parnell and the House leadership.
The commission said Bell should have disclosed the clients when he filed his disclosure statement in May. When he finally made his full disclosure earlier this month, he reported the largest client of F.R. Bell and Associates was BP, and that it paid the firm more than $1 million for civil engineering and other work.
Bell said at a commission hearing Monday that he is the chief executive of the firm, sets his own salary and cannot be fired. He sold the company to an employee stock ownership plan in 2007, in which he holds slightly more than 5 percent interest.
Reach Richard Mauer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4345.
By RICHARD MAUER