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Panel: Bethel lawmaker violated ethics rules

Posted: December 8, 2013 - 12:08am

JUNEAU — A Bethel state representative has been fined $5,000 for violating ethics rules.

An ethics panel announced Friday that it found Democratic Rep. Bob Herron failed to disclose a state contract with the Lower Kuskokwim School District for three years, failed to disclose board memberships for entities in which he was a part owner, and failed to provide sufficient detail on joint business ventures with another legislator. Ethics committee administrator Joyce Anderson said Herron could face additional fines if he doesn’t submit detailed disclosures by Dec. 20.

The House Subcommittee of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics also found Herron knowingly filed incomplete financial disclosures with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. The panel said it suspended any fine that could have been imposed since Herron already paid a fine to the public offices commission for that.

The ethics panel said two other allegations were dismissed.

Herron was first elected to the state House in 2008. In a statement released Friday, he said he has “never knowingly filed a false, misleading or incomplete disclosure statement.” He said he was reviewing the committee’s decisions and intends “to fully comply with the committee’s recommended course of corrective actions.”

According to the complaint, the $5,000 fine due within a month of the decision relates to the state contract disclosure. Herron told the ethics panel he didn’t know the school bus transportation contract required an ethics disclosure. The committee found the lack of disclosure on the contract, which it said had an annual value of about $930,000, was “not just merely an oversight or poor reporting.”

Herron also told the panel his lack of detail on the business ventures was due to poor reporting rather than a deliberate effort to hide information. He said he would file board membership information, according to the complaint.

Anderson said Herron can request a public hearing on the fine and complaints, similar to an appeal, if he disagrees with the findings. She said such hearings are rare in the committee’s history.

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