An Alaska Public Offices Commission investigation of Skagway Assemblyman Dan Henry’s annual financial filings found that he violated state regulations by providing incomplete information about his income.
The APOC report says Henry deprived the public of information meant to provide government transparency. It recommends the longtime elected official pay a penalty of about $22,000.
Henry’s alleged financial omissions came to light earlier this year when he pled guilty to willful failure to timely file federal income tax returns.
His plea agreement in the case touches on evidence that Henry misrepresented his income in financial disclosure statements with the state public offices commission. In four years’ worth of statements, he failed to list any income over $1,000 from self-employment. Henry owns the Skagway Fish Company restaurant.
A formal complaint filed by Skagway resident Roger Griffin in March prompted APOC staff to open an investigation. Here’s what they found.
Griffin’s complaint alleges Henry falsified financial disclosure statements filed between 2010 and 2013 providing income information about years 2009 through 2012. APOC was restricted to just the 2011, 2012, and 2013 statements because of a five-year statute of limitations.
APOC staff found that in those years, Henry repeatedly checked a box that says ‘none’ when reporting his income from self-employment. If his income was under $1,000, that would have been OK. But the report says evidence shows his income was much more than that.
Henry did not respond to APOC’s questions about his income. So, the agency looked to his plea agreement in the federal tax case. The agreement orders Henry to pay more than $600,000 in restitution for unpaid taxes. APOC staff calculate that that comes to about $66,000 per year. If that’s how much he owed in taxes, the report says, his income was well above $1,000.
The report reads ‘it appears his intent was to not report income to either the IRS or to APOC.’
The report says Henry’s incomplete disclosures are a clear violation of regulations meant ‘to provide transparency to the public.’ It goes on to say that Henry ‘deprived the public of the right to know the financial interests of a person holding public office.’
As for the penalty, APOC staff say since Henry is facing a large fine from the IRS, as well as possible incarceration, it does not recommend the maximum penalty. Instead, the report recommends Henry pay half of that, about $22,000. And, it recommends that Henry be ordered to correct his financial disclosure statements.
Griffin, who filed the complaint against Henry, said he was glad APOC ‘stepped up to the plate’ by conducting an investigation. He said, when you serve in public office, you have to ‘play by the rules.’
“There’s a couple ways to look at this and one is to say ‘well this is just government paperwork and it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.’ But on the other hand, what I’m hoping is that it does amount to a hill of beans,” said Griffin. “When you hold a public office with fiduciary responsibilities, the public has a right to know what your circumstances are in that area.”
Henry now has a chance to respond to the investigation. The commission will hold a hearing on the case at a meeting on June 8. That’s when they’ll make a final decision on his penalty.
The APOC report notes that Henry’s financial disclosure statements had come to the agency’s attention before. In 2013, staff questioned Henry’s filing, but there is no record showing they followed up on the question. APOC Executive Director Paul Dauphinais said he could not comment on why it appears staff did not follow up on that filing. Dauphinais declined to speak on tape for this story.
Henry was first elected to Skagway’s local government about 20 years ago. Following his federal tax case and the opening of the APOC investigation, he has continued to serve on the assembly. Henry also continues to serve as the chair of the assembly’s finance committee. One other assembly member and a couple Skagway residents have publicly called for him to step down as finance chair. Whether he plans to do that is uncertain. Henry did not respond to requests for comment by deadline for this report.
Skagway Mayor Mark Schaefer declined to comment on the APOC report until the commission makes a final decision.