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Rep. Herron hit with $5,000 ethics fine

Jim PaulinDutch Harbor Fisherman
Loren Holmes photo

State Rep. Bob Herron has been fined $5,000 by a state ethics commission for failing to disclose his financial interest in a publicly-funded private school bus company.

In a Nov. 21 decision, the state Select Committee on Legislative Ethics found probable cause for three allegations of violations of state ethics law by Herron, D-Bethel, while two were dismissed.

The decision stated that Heron, a former legislative staffer and Bethel city manager, “was most certainly aware of the requirement” to disclose a state contract of $930,000 per year for three years between the Lower Kuskokwim School District and his bus company, Golden Eagle Unlimited, Inc.

Herron’s district ranges from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to the Aleutian Chain, including Unalaska.

Herron told ethics investigators he was not aware of the disclosure requirement for state contracts. Following the committee decision, Herron said through a legislative spokesman that he didn’t intend to do anything wrong.

“I have never knowingly filed a false, misleading or incomplete disclosure statement. I am reviewing the committee’s decisions, and intend to fully comply with the committee’s recommended course of corrective actions,” Herron said Dec. 6

“Herron will not comment further at this time,” said House majority assistant press secretary Jeremiah Campbell. While Herron is a Democrat, he is a member of a coalition with majority Republicans.

The committee found probable cause that Herron violated the ethics law for failing to disclose his board membership in five organizations subject to state regulation. Herron was named as a part-owner of four of the organizations, Bethel Drilling and Welding Services, Blue Sky Estates, and Kisarelik Unlimited. Also, he was the public representative on the board of RurAL CAP.

An allegation of conflict of interest on a vote on pupil transportation funding was dismissed, because Herron announced on the House floor that he should not vote because he owned a Bethel bus company. However, he did vote in favor of the legislation at the direction of the House leadership.

Also dismissed was another allegation involving financial reporting, since Herron’s ownership of a state lease on a New York Creek gold claim was valued at less than the $5,000 minimum required for disclosure.

This story first appeared in The Bristol Bay Times/Dutch Harbor Fisherman and is republished here with permission.