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Eye On Boise

Hart’s lawyer can’t appeal ethics ruling

Remember when Rep. Phil Hart’s attorney, Starr Kelso, issued a statement last week charging that the House Ethics Committee’s action against Hart, through its unanimous vote to recommend his removal from the House Revenue & Taxation Committee while he presses his own personal fight against back state income taxes, had “no basis in law or procedure and exceeds the Committee’s authority”? Turns out those claims aren’t going anywhere. Here’s why: “There is no judicial review of this,” said Brian Kane, the deputy attorney general assigned to the Ethics Committee, who attended all its meetings and advised members throughout the process.

“This is a wholly internal procedure of a single chamber of Idaho’s Legislature,” Kane said.  “Courts generally have been extremely resistant to getting into the inner workings of the legislative body, as far as committee assignments and things like that. That would be a really clear violation of the separation of powers, in my opinion.”

Kane outlined for the panel, at both its meetings, the options it had before it: Dismissal of charges, reprimand, censure, or expulsion. “Each of those are recommendations to the full body,” he said. “And they can include within those measures additional recommendations such as removal from a committee or removal from all committees, or different combinations of things that perhaps the speaker or the body would want to invoke against that member.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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