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Friday, November 5, 2021

Bob Bell Enabled Corrupt Bastards

I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be more honest for us to turn our elections into auctions. Put a law or candidate on eBay and let the bidding begin. Of course school lunch subsidies, minimum wage and other “special interests” wouldn’t have a hope, but a governor willing to give $10 billion to the oil industry would be going-going-gone in seconds.

Wait a minute … Did I forget? We used to have public policy on the auction block. A company called Veco Corp., which depended on Alaska’s oil majors to survive, purchased favors from elected politicians for decades. That finally ended after a spectacle of trials, jail terms and hubris.

We require candidates to detail where their income comes from and what they do to earn that money. Makes sense, right? Before choosing candidates, voters should have a clear idea of what payroll they’ll be on.

Alaska has a citizen legislature, meaning we expect those who serve to have real jobs and the life experience and biases that go with them. There’s nothing wrong with a legislator who works for an oil company, or as a teacher, or owns a liquor store or sells shoes. But knowing those facts helps voters have at least an idea how a candidate might vote in office.

Last week, Daily News reporter Rich Mauer reported on Republican Senate candidate Bob Bell’s disclosure reports to the Alaska Public Offices Commission. After being ordered to comply with the law, Bell begrudgingly listed his company’s clients and income. BP is in the “at least $1 million” column for Mr. Bell. Of course everyone needs to make a living, but with two senators who work for Conoco Phillips already likely to serve in the legislature next year (that’s 10 percent of the Alaska Senate), and multinational oil company executives attending fund-raisers for Bob Roses and others, do we really need another senator who gets a big chunk of his income from the oil industry?

But the real shocker in Mauer’s story came in an anecdote Mr. Bell told to explain why he wouldn’t be influenced by the politics of his clients, should he be elected. According to Bell, he wouldn’t be susceptible to bribery because a backer of the private prison to be built by Veco and others tried to bribe him as a municipal assemblyman in 1996. He told Mauer, “They approached me and said we got a whole bunch of money here for your re-election campaign and we’ll give you the engineering contracts and everything.”

But Bell said “no” to the very unpopular South Anchorage prison that Veco wanted him to support.

Mauer wrote that Bell did not report the offer of a bribe to law enforcement authorities. “Told that the offer of an engineering contract in return for his support of the prison as an assemblyman could be a crime, Bell replied:

“It is?”

Sorry if you just spit coffee out your nose. I did when I read it the first time.

“IT IS?”

Are you kidding me?

After literally years of front-page coverage of the “Corrupt Bastards Club,” aspiring state senator Bob Bell still didn’t know that trying to bribe an elected official is illegal?!

Bell could have reported the attempt to local police, state troopers or the FBI, but he didn’t.

So let’s review what we’ve learned. Bob Bell took no action though he was absolutely aware that

someone was willing to bribe public officials to get favorable public policy for the Veco private prison.

“It is?”

Good Grief.

I’m grateful for a lawmaker who, under similar circumstances, made a different choice than Bell. When handed an envelope of cash, then-Sen. Mike Szymanski handed it back and immediately called the FBI, which tipped the first domino in an investigation that lasted three years. Had Bell made a similar choice, the corruption would have ended a lot sooner.

This week Bell attended the Architects and Engineers lunch and candidate forum. When he was asked how citizens could get good legislation passed in Juneau, he surprised many in the audience by telling them about former Republican House member Joe Green, who had said campaign contributions are what count.

Really? Isn’t that called Pay to Play?

All of this leaves me wondering: Can Bob Bell tell the difference between business as usual and an actual crime?



8 Responses to “Bob Bell Enabled Corrupt Bastards”
  1. Zyxomma says:

    Bob Bell is beneath contempt. So is anyone who casts a vote for him.

  2. Madeline says:

    Has anyone looked at the Alaska Family Council website recently? This is Jim Minnery’s “church”. It looks for all apparent purposes like a political action committee website, which of course it is. They managed to co-opt the last municipal election by sending scores of unregistered voters to Anchorage to file “contested” ballots. Now he is funding a similar effort to get his crazies to turn out enmass again. Apparently there wasn’t an issue sufficiently interesting to them this time (like doing away with someone elses rights). What can we do to reduce his impact? Which of the moderate senate candidates are most in need of support? I think Minnery has proven that the time has come to begin stripping these “churches” of their tax exempt status. If they want to play PAC, fine, let them follow the rules like everyone else.

    • Pinwheel says:

      Curious if any mudflatters covered church services these past 2 Sundays. Many born-again/evangelicals choose to defy the IRS and preach politics from their pulpits. Any of this on tape? n

  3. Alaska Pi says:

    No, Mr Bell cannot “tell the difference between business as usual and an actual crime”.
    Or worse, he cannot tell up from down , right from wrong, or has been asleep with his eyes open for years. And years.
    As we can assume he has a passing familiarity with the whole CBC mess, what can be made of the doofus “It is?” this late in the game? Now, after all the trials, the media coverage, the endless turmoil surrounding finding out yet another legislator accepted a bribe, we are to believe Mr Bell hasn’t made at least a correlation between bribery and crime?
    And the campaign contribution thing? Hoo boy.
    And this doof wants to be hired to write and pass laws?
    I don’t think so.

  4. John says:

    With few exceptions, I don’t think people should be required to report crimes they observe. It may be unethical not to, but it shouldn’t be considered a crime to fail to report. But there are exceptions. Health care professionals and teachers are required to report suspected child abuse. They only have to have reason to suspect, and if they fail to report it, they can lose their license. Elected or appointed government officials should be similarly required to report suspected bribery. They should lose their right to their current position and future positions if they fail to report. Someone who doesn’t recognize that being offered future contracts in exchange for votes has no business representing the public in any capacity ever.

    Of course, we shouldn’t forget that Ben Stevens was paid a six figure salary to advise Veco on how to get bills through the state Senate when Ben was Senate President. That was easy work: “Keep paying me and your bills will get through; stop paying me and you might have some trouble. Thanks for lunch.”

    • mike from iowa says:

      I remember rethug Tom Delay ordering korporate Amerika to hire his political aides if they even wanted to do business with him and Congress. I remember Rethugs warning korporate Amerika not to hire Bill Clinton to give speeches after he was out of office. When one party controls all of the branches of government,it is pretty easy to set yourself above the law. For a refresher course-as if one is needed-look up The Big Buy-Tom Delay’s Stolen Congress-if you can find it. rwnj have extremely,conveniently short memories when it comes to political dirty players.

  5. Diane says:

    He is not only unethical, he is a moron.

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