Members of the Ethics Committee had a few questions about the complaint and charges against Rep. Phil Hart. Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, said, “It looks like to me it’s extremely vague.” Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, responded, “We have an obligation as a body to … represent what is good about Idaho, that we follow the rules and don’t break laws. … I think the reason we are here today is to determine, rather than having the media determine,” whether that’s occurred. “We probably need to invoke Rule 38 more often,” she said, to disclose conflicts of interest. “The representative has some issues in the state and with the federal government, and … that may not be reflective of how our constituents would like to see us. I think we’re held to a higher standard.”
She added that the committee must look at if “the gentleman is using his ability as a legislator basically to further his agenda and to participate in a way that our constituents do not feel is appropriate. I think that’s why we’re here.” She noted that Hart voted on tax rules, introduced a personal bill to eliminate the state income tax, and voted on a silver bill when he’s been involved with a company manufacturing silver Liberty Dollars. Hart’s attorney, Starr Kelso, then told the committee that Hart severed his relationship with that company in 2006.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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