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Hall's Bell has $13K in campaign war chest
Commissioner has raised more than 4 other commissioners combined
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In a non-election year, Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell is reporting more than $13,000 in campaign contributions.

The number is well above what his fellow commissioners have reported receving from supporters in a recent filing with the state’s Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

In statements filed late last week, Commissioner Billy Powell reported a $300 contribution in the first six months of 2011 while Commissioner Craig Lutz reported $1,000.

Neither Chairman Tom Oliver nor Commissioner Scott Gibbs have filed contribution reports, according to the commission’s website.

Monday morning, Oliver said he had not filed a report, because he had no contributions to report. The chairman says he still has not decided whether he’ll run for re-election next year.

“Mine is no money in and no money out,” Oliver said.

Gibbs said he had not filed with the commission because he had not been able to obtain the personal identification number required to file a report online.

“I’ve requested it twice,” Gibbs.

Powell said his $300 contribution was unsolicited. The commissioner said he had not held any fundraisers.

“It was just a random act of kindness,” Powell said.

Bell reportedly raised $13,400 in the first six months of 2011, a number he says is largely attributed to his decision to switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party in January.

Bell reported $5,700 in contributions that month.

None of Bell’s contributions from January through the end of June came from donors inside Hall County.

The commissioner said a few parties hosted by others in Atlanta and Savannah to help acquaint him with others in the Republican Party resulted in financial support from outsiders.

Despite the geographic location of his financial supporters this reporting period, Bell said he plans to run for the commission again next year. He does not plan to run for a third term, however.

“I plan on being more active in the Republican Party than I was in the Democratic Party,” Bell said. “...I’m laying the ground work for a long career in the Republican Party, and that’s part of the process.”

Of the money he’s raised, Bell has used $1,770 to contribute to local charities, including Young Life and Family Ties veterans organizations, according to the report he filed last week.

Bell has a little more than $10,300 on-hand.

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