Mebbe it’s not surprising that House Ethics Committee chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Ione, was doing everything possible to give Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, a pass during the panel hearing today. Loertscher was the lone dissenter in the 6-1 vote by the committee to look more deeply into the complaints against Athol’s Artful Tax Dodger. Loertscher was then Rep. Bill Sali’s only ally in a tax bill showdown with House Speaker Bruce Newcomb. When Sali lost the showdown, Newcomb temporarily stripped Sali and Loertscher of all committee assignments until he was persuaded to backtrack by his chief lieutenant, then Majority Leader Lawerence Denney. Denney, now the House speaker, advised Newcomb then: ” “When you root with pigs, you get dirty. Don’t stoop to their level,” Denney advised. You can read Dan Popkey’s report archived report about the showdown here (thanks to Fork in comments section). Sali, of course, went on to become a one-term congressman, and Loertscher is heading a committee in which he appears to be the one unabashed ally of Rep. Phil Hart.
Question: Is Loertscher the right guy to chair the House Ethics Committee in dealing with complaints about Phil Hart’s conduct?