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Assessment board appointee withdraws name

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 13, 2014 at 6:03 pm •  Published: March 13, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A California man appointed by Gov. Sean Parnell to the board that reviews the tax value the trans-Alaska pipeline has withdrawn his name from consideration, saying he didn't want it to become an issue for Parnell.

Dennis Mandell told The Associated Press the decision was his own. He said that after talking with legislators, his appointment to the State Assessment Review Board seemed to be a "very political, hot issue." Mandell said he didn't want it to become an issue for the governor or a distraction from other issues the Legislature is dealing with, like a major gas-line project.

The former oil company analyst had been scheduled for a confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee. The committee still heard the nomination of Parnell's other appointee to the board, Bernard Washington of Anchorage. His name was advanced to a joint session of the Legislature, which will decide whether to confirm.

Senate Democrats had urged Parnell to withdraw Mandell's nomination, pointing to a state law that says board appointees must be and have been before the last general election registered voters in the state. Mandell, of Salinas, Calif., said he last lived in Alaska in 1995 but returns a couple times a year.

Senate Minority Leader Hollis French, D-Anchorage, said Mandell "did the right thing." He said he had no comment yet on Washington's appointment.

Washington, who testified by telephone, told the committee he spent 35 years in the oil industry and worked in areas including pipeline valuation. He is currently chief financial officer of Alaska Public Media.

Parnell on Thursday defended Mandell as an "incredibly professional and qualified." He said to his knowledge, no one in the administration asked Mandell to withdraw.

"But we compared notes. And when your chances of being confirmed are not there, this is one of those moments where he just chose to withdraw," the governor said.

Parnell maintains that under the Alaska Constitution, he is only required to appoint U.S. citizens to "quasi-judicial" agencies, which is what he says describes the board. The Legislature's top attorney, Doug Gardner, and legislative attorney Emily Nauman, in a legal memo to House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, said the appointment of a nonresident violates the law that had been pointed out by Senate Democrats. But they said there is "considerable question" of whether that law is constitutional under the U.S. and state constitutions.

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