From David Hulen in Anchorage --
The Alaska Public Offices Commission staff is recommending that Anchorage Mayor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Begich pay a fine of $1,420 for failing to list items on his state financial disclosure statement.
The recommendation, which now will be considered by the full commission, is the result of a complaint by Alaska Republican Party spokesman McHugh Pierre this summer. The essence of the complaint: That Begich's state disclosure form, which he's required to file as mayor, failed to list some assets and income that he included on the federal form he filed as a Senate candidate.
Here's the APOC report, which was issued last Thursday.(PDF)
The report's summary:
McHugh Pierre, spokesman for the Alaska Republican Party (“Complainant”), filed a complaint against Mark Begich (“Respondent”) on July 31, 2008 (Pierre v. Begich, 08-11-POFD(A) [Exhibit 1] and 08-11-POFD(A) Amended), [Exhibit 2]. Mr. Pierre alleged violations of AS 39.50.020, AS 39.50.030, 2 AAC 50.070 and 2 AAC 50.020, and Mr. Pierre requested that Mr. Begich be referred to the Department of Law for prosecution as the report had been signed under penalty of perjury and the report was incorrect.
APOC Staff reviewed Mr. Begich’s state [Exhibit 6] and federal filings [Exhibit 7] and his response to the complaint [Exhibit 3]. Staff has concluded that there are seven items that were either improperly omitted or incorrect on Mr. Begich’s 2008 APOC Public Official Financial Disclosure Statement, and that he has violated AS 39.50.030 by failing to disclose these items in a timely manner. Staff recommends Mr. Begich be fined a total of $1,420.00; $10 for each day that the Statement was incomplete and in violation of AS 39.50.030.
Here's the statement that the Begich campaign sent out this morning with the APOC report:
On July 31, 2008, McHugh Pierre, on behalf of the Republican Party, filed a complaint with the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) based on differences between my state and federal disclosure forms. On September 11, 2008, APOC staff issued their report and found most of the allegations to be without merit. APOC staff found:
“that most of the allegations are based on a misunderstanding by Mr. Pierre of the differing federal and state reporting requirements and time periods, or incomplete information relied upon by Mr. Pierre.” (APOC Staff Report page 2)
The staff report also found that:
“there were seven items that should have been included or corrected on the 2008 APOCFDF (Financial Disclosure Form) filed by Mark Begich.” (APOC Staff Report page 11)
The information determined to be missing off of my state APOC form was disclosed on my federal disclosure forms. In fact, the Republican Party attack relied solely on materials from these federal forms that are posted on my website at www.begich.com. The bottom line remains that all my financial information was publicly disclosed on either my state or federal forms.
Consistent with guidance provided by APOC staff, I reported or corrected each item in an Amended Disclosure Report I filed with APOC on August 22, 2008. Alaska law provides for a penalty of $10/day for reporting errors and, as a result, APOC staff recommended a penalty of $1420. The final amount of any penalty will be decided by the Commission at its next meeting. The errors on my APOC report involved relatively minor amounts, but I recognize the need for accuracy in APOC reporting, and will promptly pay any penalty the Commission feels is warranted.
I fully respect our disclosure laws and appreciate the time the Alaska Public Offices Commission has put into this matter.