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Alaska Senate candidate Bob Bell holds last fundraiser of season

Amanda CoyneThe New York Times
Courtesy Bob Bell

Alaska Senate candidate Bob Bell had his final major fundraiser at the Petroleum Club on Monday. Bell, 69, is a Republican running against incumbent state Sen. Hollis French, an Anchorage Democrat, in the Nov. 6 general election. Bell has been endorsed by Gov. Sean Parnell, who shares a similar philosophy with Bell when it comes to lowering state taxes on oil companies. Bell founded an engineering firm that contracts with oil companies. In 2011, his firm's contract with BP totaled at least $1 million, according to his public disclosures.

At the fundraiser, Bell told the crowd that he had raised $125,000 and that a recent poll done in the district encompassing West Anchorage, Turnagain and Sand Lake, showed him between 8-10 points ahead. As of Oct. 5, French had raised more than $182,000.

In response, French said that he had heard about another poll that showed him up by 5 points. That one, French said, was conducted before a story ran in the Anchorage Daily News about BP’s contracts with Bell’s company, and about disgraced oil man Bill Allen’s attempt to bribe him when he was an member of the Anchorage Assembly. Bell told the newspaper then that he didn’t turn Allen into the FBI for attempting to bribe a public official.

In a later interview with the Alaska Dispatch, however, Bell said that he did receive counsel “from someone in the position to know” about the interaction. He was assured, he said, that nothing illegal went on. He declined to name who he spoke to.

Monday’s fundraiser came on the heels of a story reported by the Alaska Dispatch about Bell being under investigation by state troopers for questions regarding a 2010 controversial musk ox hunt when Bell was on the Board of Game. Bell isn't talking directly to Alaska Dispatch anymore, but through his campaign adviser, he said, “I did not break any laws, did not intend to skirt any laws. This was a perfectly legal hunt and perfectly legal purchase of art,” referring to the horns that he had carved after the hunt.

Bell added: “(S)ome in the media are trying to make it into something it is not.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com