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Eye On Boise

Mon., Nov. 1, 2010, 7:14 a.m.

Hart made ‘donation’ to endowment, not restitution for ‘96 timber theft

Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart's log home in Athol, Idaho, built partly with logs taken from state school endowment land (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart's log home in Athol, Idaho, built partly with logs taken from state school endowment land (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, sent a check as promised to the state's school endowment for $2,450, but called it a "voluntary donation" to the permanent fund, not a payment on a judgment over a 1996 timber theft; Hart used the stolen logs to build his Athol home. That's left the state endowment's managers scratching their heads as to how the check should be handled. Revenue from timber sales on state endowment lands goes into an earnings reserve fund, from which direct payments to schools go out every year. Donations to the permanent endowment are held in perpetuity; only their investment earnings are distributed.

"It is somewhat at odds with his public statements, where he said, 'I'm sending this money in respect to, to clear up any amount due on unpaid timber,'" said Larry Johnson, manager of investments for the endowment. "So I sent a letter back to his attorney asking him to clarify whether he really meant it as a donation, or whether he meant it as a payment for timber. But I guess if we don't hear from him, we'll take the letter at face value and assume it's a donation." You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, from Sunday's Spokesman-Review.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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