- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The minority leader of the Alaska House has agreed to a fine of $14,000 for mismanaging campaign funds.

Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, acknowledged mixing up campaign contributions with personal savings and not making accurate, timely disclosures. He said it was the result of sloppy accounting - not anything intentional - and said he wishes he’d been more careful. He plans to have an accountant manage his books in the future.

Tuck, who is running unopposed as he seeks a fourth term, signed a consent agreement with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. However, Tuck said he thought the fine was too high. The maximum penalty he faced for the violations was $700,000, but the commission agreed to the lower amount in an effort to match the proportionate harm to the public.

The agreement details a tangle of accounting problems, APRN reports (https://bit.ly/1t9xlGa ), starting with a 2012 fundraiser that Tuck didn’t report as a contribution. The commission found Tuck managed campaign funds as a section of his personal banking account and that over the past two election cycles, over $16,000 “flowed” through his personal account and over $11,000 in campaign funds were used for personal expenses.

There were so many errors, it was “beyond the expertise of APOC staff” to untangle them, the agreement said.

Besides the fine, Tuck must forfeit $6,000 in leftover campaign funds and correct past disclosures.

The commission said Tuck took “great efforts” to address the problems once they were raised.

Tuck said the campaign funds went toward personal expenditures because he mixed up his debit cards. He said he tried to repay that money immediately.

“There was some mistakes there that, yes, they did happen,” says Tuck. “And I regret that they happened. I understand what I did. I’m sorry for making those mistakes.”

He said he brought some of the errors mentioned in the agreement to the commission’s attention and that the public wouldn’t have known about them if he hadn’t been cooperative.

He said he’s concerned a fine of the size he’s facing could prevent candidates from self-reporting if they make mistakes in their record keeping. He said it also might discourage people from running for public office.

If he had the time and money, he would have taken the case to court, he said.

“This is one of the toughest things I have ever gone through,” Tuck said. “I’ve gone through divorce and a custody battle, and this is right up there with that.”

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