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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: Eric Anderson

Oddest campaign expense line: Septic tank service

The most offbeat item I've seen so far in the latest batch of campaign finance reports is this: A $109.99 payment to Ace Septic Tank Service in Sagle, filed under the category for campaign event-related expenses. Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, laughed when I asked him about the entry in his report. “Maybe I'm the first one to ever have to rent a Porta-Potty for my campaign,” he said. “Does that say anything about me? Probably nothing good.”

The event in question was Gov. Butch Otter's “Capitol for a Day” at Nordman last month, which was held outside the Priest Lake Lodge on the shores of Priest Lake. “We had 350 people there, and there's no way that Nordman's sewer would've probably handled that at one time. You've only got one facility for men and one for women,” Anderson said. His campaign was among the event's sponsors; in addition to renting two portable toilets, he bought 300 pounds of beef for the barbecue and purchased hundreds of dollars worth of potato salad, beans and fixings. Others helped out, too, doing the cooking and serving; the Lion's Club set up the tents. “All the resorts pitched in - they all brought tables and chairs,” Anderson said. The crowd included “pretty much everybody from the lake, on a Wednesday in September.”

Asked if it was his biggest campaign event of the year, Anderson said, “By far - it was by far the biggest campaign event for my whole life. And the funnest I've ever had.” Otter's “Capitol for a Day” events allow folks in small towns to ask questions of the governor and top state agency officials; Lt. Gov. Brad Little and state schools Superintendent Tom Luna were among those attending. “There wasn't a question left unasked,” Anderson said.

The hottest topic of the day: Salt on the roads. “People have been noticing their cars are getting rusty now the last two or three years much more than they ever have in the past,” Anderson said. “That was a big topic.” Other hot topics included state-owned cabin sites; caribou habitat; wolves; Fish and Game; kokanee recovery; and the school reform referenda measures. Said Anderson, “It was just so great for everybody to be out and about. It was a really nice day.”

NW Power Council wants federal aid to combat invasive mussels

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which is meeting in Boise today, is calling for a $2 million federal investment in blocking invasive quagga and zebra mussels from leaving Lake Mead - pictured here - on infested boats and traveling to the still-uninfested waters of the Northwest, including Idaho. The four-state group, which also includes Montana, Oregon and Washington, wants the federal aid to add watercraft inspection and decontamination stations to intercept boats carrying the rapidly multiplying, thumbnail-sized mollusks that could wreak havoc on Columbia River hydroelectric dams, farmers' irrigation systems and lakes prized for recreation, the AP reports. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

The council's two-day meeting in Boise continues today at the Hampton Inn downtown; today's meeting, which runs through the morning, includes discussion of wind power integration, transmission, progress on collaborative efforts to protect salmon in the Lemhi River watershed, and activities by the Columbia Basin Trust.

Invasive mussels on the move toward Idaho, the Northwest

North Idaho Rep. Eric Anderson's nightmare involves invasive quagga and zebra mussels slipping into Idaho's waterways and altering the very nature of the state. “It scares me, it really does scare me,” said Anderson, R-Priest Lake. He was a featured speaker Tuesday at the Idaho Environmental Forum, a periodic forum on environmental issues facing the state, and he had a chilling warning: Only five states - Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming and Montana - have yet to be invaded by the tiny, fast-reproducing shellfish that chokes out native species and encrusts everything that touches the infested water. And more and more mussel-infested boats are being intercepted on the way to Idaho, with the vast majority coming from the Lake Mead area.

Two more fouled boats were caught on I-90 in North Idaho on Friday, for a total of 41 so far this year - and the summer boating season is just beginning. If mussels show up in “any waterway in the Northwest here, it's going to eventually end up in the Columbia and out to the ocean,” Anderson said. “We're going to lose this whole system.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Hart backer targets Anderson in complaint

A North Idaho political activist and backer of embattled Rep. Phil Hart is trying to file a House ethics complaint against Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake - though only House members can file such complaints. Anderson filed an ethics complaint against Hart last month, charging that the Athol Republican has violated his oath of office by refusing to pay state and federal income taxes and contending they're unconstitutional; by invoking legislative privilege to try to win delays in his tax cases; and by illegally logging state school endowment land to build a log home and then refusing to pay a still-outstanding judgment for the 1996 timber theft.

Activist Larry Spencer, in a five-page letter to House Speaker Lawerence Denney dated Dec. 20, claims Anderson has a conflict of interest because he's a contractor and voted for contractor licensing legislation that Spencer opposes; and because he worked on a state milfoil eradication program and lives on Priest Lake, which is among the lakes where milfoil is now being eradicated.

Anderson said, “I did know that he was out sniffing around trying to find any dirt that he can on me.” He added, “I don't know if there's anything I can think about what Larry Spencer does. I have a hard enough time keeping my sanity without letting him into my head.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
  

Hart wants to ‘get on with legislation,’ including new ‘sound money’ bill

After today’s House Ethics Committee deliberations, Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, said, “Well, I still think they’re looking for their allegation that shows that there is bona fide violation of Rule 76. … They’re still empty-handed.”

Asked what he hopes happens next, Hart said, “I’m hoping that I can get on with the legislation that I want to run in 2011,” including a new version of his “sound money” bill and others. The new bill will be “a similar concept” to Hart’s silver medallion bill from this year, he said, “although I don’t have anything finalized yet. There will be some changes from last year’s bill.”

Kelso: ‘Where politics and due process meet’

Starr Kelso, attorney for embattled Rep. Phil Hart, said after today’s House Ethics Committee meeting, “What I can say is that the legislative process is a fluid and complex process where politics and due process meet. And so, I guess it was reasonable that they asked Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane to put his thoughts in writing. He seemed to me that he had expressed his thoughts verbally, but to require that they be in writing, that’s certainly the prerogative of the committee. So I wasn’t disappointed. They do what they do.”

Hart denies telling Anderson of being ‘watched’; ‘it was not confrontational’

Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, says his conversation with Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, at the Legislature’s organizational session wasn’t confrontational. “I did approach him and I did say, ‘Eric, if you need to get together or if you see a need for us to get together and talk, I want you to know that I’m open to doing that and available,’” Hart told Eye on Boise. “And that was the first thing I said to him.” He said, “We talked for a little while. I do remember that that’s the way I initiated the conversation. It was not confrontational and it didn’t go on for too long. I did not tell him he’s being watched.”

Hart added, “I did tell him that I felt that in these types of situations, it should’ve started with a one-on-one conversation between he and I, I do remember telling him that. … That’s what I thought the starting point should have been,” as opposed to an ethics complaint. Anderson filed an ethics complaint against Hart; the House Ethics Committee voted 6-1 today to investigate it further and convene again in January.

Denney warned Anderson of ‘fallout’ if he filed ethics complaint against Hart

House Speaker Lawerence Denney said today that Rep. Eric Anderson’s removal as vice-chairman of the House State Affairs Committee - shortly after Anderson had filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Phil Hart - was merely an oversight, but also said he’d warned Anderson of “fallout” if he filed the ethics complaint. As for the vice-chairmanship, Denney said, “What’s done is done, and we’ll continue for two years as it is.” He said, “When you get those names and everything out there, things change and sometimes we miss things. … Sometimes people who should get something don’t. It’s not that we’re punishing anybody, it’s that sometimes we miss it.”

Denney said, “No one was punished, even those who ran for leadership; we didn’t punish anyone.” Rep. Bob Nonini, who unsuccessfully challenged House Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts, kept his chairmanship of the House Education Committee. But Rep. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, who unsuccessfully challenged House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, lost his JFAC seat; Bayer said it was his choice to move to the Rev & Tax committee.

Anderson didn’t run for leadership, though he was rumored to be a candidate in the weeks before party leadership elections were held. But after he filed the ethics complaint, he lost his committee vice-chairmanship and also was denied his request for a third committee assignment, a seat on the judiciary committee. Anderson, R-Priest Lake, is a fourth-term representative; the vice chairmanship went to third-term Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa.

“You know, I don’t have a problem with him filing the ethics complaint,” Denney said. “When he came and asked me about it, I suggested that he have somebody else do it, because there could be fallout. You know, there are people in our caucus who fully support Phil Hart and there are people in our caucus who do not. So, you know, for one of our members to do that, I think it could be tough.”

Denney said, “I think Phil has every right to pursue all of his legal avenues. … In Phil’s case, we were very careful - I didn’t want to show that we were rewarding him, and I didn’t want to show that we were punishing him.” Hart, who at the recommendation of the House Ethics Committee was removed from the House Rev & Tax Committee, was simply reduced to two committee assignments instead of three; he saw no other changes. “That was his choice,” Denney said. Hart retained his vice-chairmanship of the House Transportation Committee.

Denney said he’s not concerned about Anderson’s report that Hart confronted him over the ethics complaint at the entrance to the House chambers during the Dec. 2 organizational session, and told him he was being watched. Denney said with a chuckle, “Well, you know, I think people are watching all of us.” He added of the confrontation, “You know, I think it would be hard not to do when they’re together.”

Ethics panel backs full investigation into Hart ethics issues

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on today’s House Ethics Committee meeting on Rep. Phil Hart, in which the panel voted 6-1 to launch a full investigation into the latest ethics complaint against Hart and reconvene in January, rather than dismiss the complaint today.

Motion passes, 6-1

The motion passed 6-1, with just the chairman, Rep. Tom Loertscher, voting against it. “You know, as legislators we all have something in our past,” said Loertscher, R-Iona. He said he doesn’t feel that the “constitutional rights to exhaust our remedies ends the day we take office, or the day we run for office.” He added, “As it pertains to the timber sales, this certainly happened before his involvement in the Legislature, and I would hate to have an ethics investigation into my own personal background prior to my being a legislator. I’m not here to tell you that there’s anything you would find, but there might be something that someone would have a perception about.” With the motion approved, the Ethics Committee will convene again once the legislative session begins, at the call of the chair.

Motion: Investigate full complaint further, meet again

“We have before us a copy of the minutes of our last meeting,” Rep. Tom Loertscher said as the ethics committee came back into session. “On page 6, on the last page, Rep. Raybould moved that the committee dismiss the complaint of misuse of constitutional immunity by Rep. Hart, Rep. Wills seconded the motion, that motion passed 5 ayes and 2 nays. So we have dealt with this issue and brought it to a conclusion at that point in time.”

Rep. Bert Stevenson then made a motion to direct the committee’s staff and Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane to do “further investigation into these issues” and how they affect the “status of the Legislature and reflection on the Legislature.” He said, “I would move that we continue this hearing to a further date and instruct Mr. Kane to do that investigation that would be necessary, to the issue of the timber sales as well as other issues that Mr. Kane might feel appropriate to bring forth.” Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, asked to include in the motion asking Kane to prepare an Attorney General’s opinion on the foundation of the claims in the ethics complaint. Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, asked to also include a review by the Attorney General’s office of the House ethics rules, and whether items not specifically delineated in the complaint can be examined by the ethics committee.

Sounds in the background…

During the Ethics Committee’s break, over the speaker system is coming a muffled conversation by Rep. Phil Hart, talking at his lawyer’s office, and strains of music.

Ethics panel debates whether already settled legislative privilege question

Rep. Eric Anderson said children have asked him how the courts could repeatedly say Hart was wrong, but he could continue to say he’s right. Rep. Tom Loertscher, Ethics committee chairman, asked Anderson, “Is Rep. Hart denied the opportunity to challenge … in any court … the same as any other citizen would have - does he have that right or did he give that up as a representative?” Anderson responded, “I’ve never implied that he does not have that right. It’s not in my complaint.” Loertscher said, “The only way that he could be in violation of these ethics rules is if he used his office to escape these responsibilities. … If there’s evidence of that, I think that we should proceed.” But Loertscher said he thought the ethics committee already had resolved that there was no such evidence with regard to the tax issues.

Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, took issue with that. Earlier, the panel refrained from dealing with Hart’s legislative privilege claim in his state income tax appeal because the appeal was pending, Killen said, but that’s since been decided, both by the state Board of Tax Appeals and the District Court. Both ruled against Hart. Killen said it’s time for the ethics panel to look at that issue. Loertscher disagreed, and said the committee decided “that he hadn’t abused that.” He said, “That’s what we decided at our final meeting.” Now, the panel has taken a brief break to review its minutes.

Anderson: ‘Diminished that oath’

Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, told the House Ethics Committee, “It could be an array of things that cause ethics issues to rise up. … I don’t know why we have an oath if it’s not going to be enforced.” He said he believes Hart has violated his oath of office. “I take that very serious when I raise my hand to swear on upholding the constitution of both the state and the federal government, I think that we all should and most of us do. But it is a reflection when we are doing things that are inappropriate, we have … diminished that oath. When one person, one part diminishes it, I think it’s diminished for all.”

Anderson noted that Hart has gone through numerous court proceedings on his claims, all unsuccessful. “There have not been any of these proceedings that have been favorable in terms of Rep. Hart, but yet he still continually as a legislator says that he’s done no wrong,” he said.

Panel debates whether can talk about silver issue

Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said after reviewing Rep. Eric Anderson’s complaint, there was no mention in it of the silver issue. Therefore, he said, he apologized to the committee and it shouldn’t even be discussing it. Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, asked if under state laws and House rules, “If it’s not listed in the complaint, that we can’t talk about it?” In response, Loertscher asked Legislative Services Director Jeff Youtz to read the ethics committee rules. He did so. They make no specific mention of that question.

Loertscher said if items not specifically mentioned in the complaint can be brought up, “Then we could probably open this up to almost any action of any legislator at any time - do we really want to go there?” Jaquet asked Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, to comment; he’s doing so now. “The intent there was to show that there is a pattern of behavior,” Anderson told the panel.

Hart backers grumble, call meeting ‘circus’

A half-dozen Hart supporters in the audience, who are wearing white paper cut-out hearts in support of Phil Hart, are grumbling loudly, “This is a circus” and other complaints about the Ethics Committee proceedings.

Silver coin issue ‘murky’ for ethics panel

Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, said if the Ethics Committee is going to proceed further “on this silver coin issue,” it needs a lot more information about the organization, the bill Hart introduced in 2010, and more. He said he didn’t think that was what the panel was gathered for today. Said Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, “I think we did resolve that issue already as to whether or not he was in violation of House Rule 38 in not disclosing to the body that he had some affiliation, because as he stated here today, he didn’t have that affiliation.”

Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, responded, “He did take an oath to uphold the laws of the state and the constitution of the United States and the state.” She said Hart’s involvement in the alternative currency movement suggested his bill might have been related to that, not just to promoting an Idaho commodity. “Should that bill have even been brought?” she asked. “There is some additional information that is murky.”

Kelso: Hart had ‘no involvement’ with NORFED Liberty Dollars group in 2010

After Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, pressed repeatedly, attorney Starr Kelso finally conferred with his client, Rep. Phil Hart, and said Hart was not involved with the NORFED Liberty Dollars organization after 2006 or 2007. When he introduced legislation in 2010 regarding silver medallions as currency, Hart “had had no involvement with those folks at that time,” Kelso said.

Kelso: ‘Just an incredible fishing expedition’

Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, asked whether Hart had proper permits to sell NORFED or Liberty Dollars. Starr Kelso responded, “That issue, to the extent it was raised, was discussed in the original hearing.” He said the question of whether Hart paid sales taxes on the Liberty Dollars he sold is “just an incredible fishing expedition - what does that have to do with anything?” he asked. The Liberty Dollars were an alternate currency minted from silver that were promoted as legal tender; an FBI raid put a stop to the operation in 2007, which was deemed illegal. Kelso said Hart was no longer involved with the group when he introduced a silver currency bill in 2010.

“What I’m trying to figure out is the role that Rep. Hart played in that organization in 2007, and why he chose to bring legislation in 2010,” Jaquet said. “We talked about whether he had a personal benefit. You said that he did not have any share in that company any longer. I’m confused about the role that he played … I did not know that he was a ‘regional currency officer’ (for the group), and if he was still a regional currency officer when he brought that legislation.”

Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, said he wanted to hear from Hart himself on that question, but Hart isn’t answering any questions, leaving that to Kelso.

Ethics panel discusses relevancy of timber issue

After Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, said of the timber issue, “I believe that there’s some merit there, that we should look into this further,” Ethics Committee Chair Tom Loertscher R-Iona, said, “The thing we should consider is if Rep. Hart used his office as a means of not paying that obligation. That would be a violation of the ethics rules of the House.” If not, he said, that would “not seem to be a topic that is appropriate for an ethics hearing. … If he’s used his office to say, ‘You can’t touch me because I’m a legislator’ … I don’t believe that anything in the record indicates that that’s the case.”

Jaquet said she wondered whether the reason that the state Department of Lands dropped the ball on collecting its judgment against Hart was because he was a legislator. She said the panel should at least look into that question.

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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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