OPINION: Show us the horns! C'mon, candidate Bob Bell, show us the horns!
You told a gullible television news guy that Alaska State Troopers investigated and found you "didn't do anything wrong" by having illegal musk ox horns in your house. Now it's time to show everyone the horns because what you claim troopers said is not exactly what troopers said.
Troopers said they couldn't make a case. There's a difference between that and deciding you were innocent.
Did troopers inspect the horns? We don't know. They won't say. What we do know is simple:
The horns were either cut in half -- as specified by the law -- rendering them a couple pieces of bone and thus not really horns. Or they are intact, and you therefore either broke or bent the law by laundering the horns through an artist in Nome.
And now the story really isn't about the hunt or the horns anymore. It's about your credibility. But that's pretty much been the issue from the start, hasn't it? You have this problem with shifting stories. Now, you're doing it with your book, "Oh No! We're Gonna Die."
It was sold as a humorous but factual account of some of your Alaska exploits. Retired wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott went through it and found you describing some illegal hunting activities, so now you're claiming the stories in the book are "embellished." Personally, I thought the incidents Sinnott pointed out were kind of petty. There are a lot of people in this state who think, or at least act like, there are "party limits" when they go hunting and fishing with friends.
I'd been much happier if you'd defended the book to that TV reporter by saying, "Oh well, all we did was what a lot of Alaskans do." Instead your defense was to claim the book is fiction. Or did you just make up a new fiction?
Haven't we been here before?
When this dust-up with the horns started, Alaska Dispatch reporter Amanda Coyne asked if she could take a photo of the horns, which could have killed the story in a heartbeat. No illegal horns, no story. Or maybe even a story about how you were unfairly attacked in the primary for illegal horns that weren't illegal.
You originally agreed to do the photo, and then balked. Why?
When I sent you an email saying I thought you were innocent and should make this all go a way by allowing a photo of the horns, you didn't answer. Why?
Hey, I thought then that you were innocent. And up until this latest TV outburst, I thought you were basically a decent guy.
Not anymore. That ended when you questioned my credibility, and once again illustrated your reading comprehension problems of the past.
Nobody ever accused the Alaska State Troopers of being "corrupt" as you claim. What was written, and you can go back and read it if you want, was that troopers weren't saying much of anything about your horns. They said they had closed the investigation. They refused to say why.
They seem, as is often the case, to operate under the assumption they hold no accountability to the public. That, not corruption, is the problem with troopers. In this case, their behavior has done everyone a disservice:
You, because it leaves you hanging in limbo, neither innocent nor guilty.
Us, because in doing our job we ran across a politician who appears to be playing loose with the truth, which is never a good thing. But we don't know for sure because we're caught in limbo, too.
And mostly voters because they're left trying to figure out whether we're a bunch of evil "muckrakers," a term you seem to love, making up a story out of whole cloth, or whether they've got Discombobulator Bob running for an Anchorage seat in the state Senate.
Luckily, you can make this better for everyone. You can resolve the issue in the snap of a shutter: Show us the horns, Bob. Show us the horns.
Either the horns are legal, or, as the back cover of your book says, this is one of those affairs that "shows how a relatively small mistake can become a major problem ... (for one member of) a unique cast of characters who never seem to lack in questionable judgment or bad luck."
A photographer is standing by.
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch. Alaska Dispatch welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.