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When I described the Republican Liberty Caucus of Idaho as being affiliated with the Idaho Republican Party in my Phil Hart article on Sunday, I wasn’t aware that an Idaho GOP resolution officially recognizing and welcoming the Republican Liberty Caucus to the state had expired. It turns out that the resolution, adopted by the Idaho GOP Central Committee in January of 2013, expired in January of 2015, as all GOP resolutions have only a two-year lifespan, and it hasn’t been extended. So the Republican Liberty Caucus of Idaho, whose vice-chair is former state Rep. Phil Hart of Athol and whose slogan is “The Conscience of the Republican Party,” actually has no official sanction from the Idaho GOP.
Idaho Republican Party has just three formal affiliated groups: The Idaho Federation of Republican Women; the Idaho Federation of College Republicans; and the Idaho Young Republicans.
That’s not to say that Hart isn’t still active in the Idaho GOP. He’s the party’s elected Legislative District 2 chairman, serving a two-year term that runs through May of 2016.
Tax-protesting former Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart has settled his long-running delinquent taxes case with the IRS, agreeing to let the feds auction off his Athol home for back taxes - the same home he built partly with logs he illegally cut from state school endowment land, arguing he had a right to them as a citizen.
As part of the settlement, Hart dropped claims that an array of others actually owned his home, and a string of bankruptcy filings in which he attempted to avoid losing it. He also agreed to make both monthly and annual payments to the IRS for the next nine years toward his more than $500,000 federal tax debt. If he misses a payment, the full amount would be due immediately: $586,304.70.
Hart was defeated in his bid for a fifth term in the state House in the 2012 GOP primary, but he’s remained active in state GOP politics. He currently is the Idaho Republican Party’s Legislative District 2 chairman, and is vice-chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus, an affiliated group.
Hart stopped filing both federal and state income tax returns in 1996 while he unsuccessfully pressed a federal lawsuit challenging the federal income tax as unconstitutional; after the case was rejected, he began filing returns again, but authorities said he never fully paid up. He’s also been fighting an order to pay more than $53,000 in back state income taxes, interest and penalties; he’s lost numerous appeals in that case, including one to the Idaho Supreme Court. The federal settlement doesn’t cover the state taxes.
“The state of Idaho still has a claim against Phil Hart,” said Phil Skinner, lead deputy Idaho attorney general for the Idaho State Tax Commission. “However, the reality is the IRS has such a large claim against him and they’re first in line in priority, that we’ll probably never see anything.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
As part of the settlement, Hart agreed to preserve the Athol home in its current condition and maintain insurance on it; and vacate it within seven days of the sale if he’s not the high bidder. He agreed to allow an open house within the two weeks prior to the sale, and not to “deter or discourage potential bidders from participating in the public auction, nor … cause or permit anyone else to do so.”
Court documents say Hart will be allowed to bid on the Athol home like any other bidder, if he’s able to obtain financing; but if he’s the high bidder, he’d have to pay all the back property taxes on top of the sale price. Since 2012, Hart’s racked up $8,777 in unpaid property taxes on the home, according to Kootenai County records. If someone else has the high bid, the back property taxes would come out of the sale proceeds.
Hart tried to get a federal bankruptcy court to seal the settlement, arguing that it would expose “scandalous” information about him, but Chief Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers refused. “Sealing is … inconsistent with the general proposition that the judicial records and processes of the federal courts are open and public,” the judge ruled. Hart “did not suggest a good reason, much less a compelling reason, for this court to depart from its view on the public and open nature of its records.”
Item: State responds to Phil Hart's claims/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: Hart's objection prompted the tax commission to file a response two weeks ago in the United States Bankruptcy Court saying the matter of how much Hart owes the state has been litigated, and that he is now seeking a venue to overturn an Idaho Supreme Court ruling he lost in April of 2012. "The tax commission believes that, by objecting to its claim, (Hart) is merely shopping for another forum to litigate the debt he owes to the state of Idaho, a debt established, fully litigated, and finally assessed well before the filing of his bankruptcy," the response said.
Question: I wonder how much money the state and feds have spent trying to bell this cat?
Phil Hart, the former Idaho lawmaker and tax-dodger extraordinaire, admits it: He’s made a “huge mistake.” That’s what he says in a new court filing in his effort to outwit the nation’s bankruptcy laws – a bit of court-clogging windmill-tilting that follows his battle to outwit the nation’s tax laws. He’s made a huge mistake. Which one, do you think? Was it his claim that he did not owe income taxes because income taxes are unconstitutional? Was it his refusal to pay those income taxes for years? Was it his repeated insistence that his eventual payment of some income taxes, however begrudgingly, should wash away the taint of all the taxes he still has not paid? Was it the hypocrisy of drawing a public paycheck while refusing to pay taxes?/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.
- Also: Hart: "I never hid any assets'/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press
Question: Hart admits he made a "huge mistake"?! Who woulda thunk it?
BOISE – Tax-protesting former Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart denies that he hid any assets or income, and charges that the U.S. Justice Department attorney in his case is the one who’s made false statements, according to newly filed documents.
“None of his allegations are true,” Hart said of Justice Department Attorney Adam Strait, who was among two federal attorneys making adversarial filings in Hart’s bankruptcy case charging that Hart lied under oath, concealed or destroyed records and hid income and assets. Said Hart, in a declaration filed with the court, “It is Mr. Strait who is making false statements to the court, not me.” Strait said he couldn’t comment on the pending case. Read more. Betsy Russell, SR
So. Who do you think is telling the truth?
Tax-protesting former state Rep. Phil Hart has filed his response to the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee's allegations that Hart lied under oath, concealed assets and income and more in his bankruptcy filings, insisting that he's done nothing of the sort and the IRS is just after him for "trumped up" and “exaggerated” tax liabilities. Targeting U.S. Justice Dept. attorney Adam Strait, Hart wrote in a declaration filed with the bankruptcy court, “It is Mr. Strait who is making false statements to the court, not me.” Hart says he thought the trust he put his house in was OK because he hired experts, and the unreported payments Strait identified were things like expense reimbursements and a $200 birthday gift from his mother. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Above, an ad placed in last week's Nickel's Worth by Rep. Phil Hart & the Idaho Liberty Caucus.
Federal authorities may be laying the groundwork for criminal charges against tax-protesting former Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart. In bankruptcy court documents, federal officials are charging that Hart lied under oath, concealed or destroyed records and attempted to “hinder, delay or defraud his creditors, including the Internal Revenue Service.” The filings by the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee and the U.S. Department of Justice are aimed at preventing Hart from being relieved of any of his tax debts through his latest bankruptcy case, but the implications could go well beyond that/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Question: Does this case seem to be getting seriouser and seriouser for former Rep. Hart?
Federal authorities may be laying the groundwork for criminal charges against tax-protesting former Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart. In bankruptcy court documents, federal officials are charging that Hart lied under oath, concealed or destroyed records and attempted to “hinder, delay or defraud his creditors, including the Internal Revenue Service.” The filings by the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee and the U.S. Department of Justice are aimed at preventing Hart from being relieved of any of his tax debts through his latest bankruptcy case, but the implications could go well beyond that.
By law, federal bankruptcy trustees are required to refer suspected crimes to the U.S. Attorney for prosecution. In 2012, they referred 2,120 cases, with false statements and concealment of assets among the top five crimes charged; the No. 1 most-charged crime was bankruptcy fraud.
“We don’t comment on cases beyond what’s in the public record,” said Shannon May, spokeswoman for the U.S. Trustee Program in Washington, D.C. But she provided copies of the program’s annual report, including the legal requirements and figures about criminal enforcement.
The federal bankruptcy court filings, which have the effect of creating a lawsuit within Hart’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, turning it into an “adversary proceeding,” say Hart “retained a secret interest” in his log home in Athol for years after transferring it to a sham trust set up in his daughter’s name. He then denied owning any real estate in his bankruptcy filing, including statements under oath. And that’s just one of the many allegations in the filings. The Justice Department’s filing says Hart claimed to have paid $600 a month in rent to the trust in exchange for living in the home. But he said he “makes the purported rent payments to the Sarah Elizabeth Hart Trust by placing $600 in cash in a desk drawer in his home.” Then, the filing said, he spends the money, including for utility bills on the house. You can read my full story here from Sunday’s Spokesman-Review.
A federal judge has cleared the way for the Internal Revenue Service to foreclose on former state Rep. Phil Hart's Athol, Idaho log home over years of unpaid taxes, the AP reports. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled last week that Hart, a Republican, was still the true owner of the log home and that his attempt to transfer the property to a trust was ineffective. The judge also said Hart couldn't claim a "head of household" tax exemption because he had no dependents at the time.
Hart, who lost his bid for a fifth term in the Idaho House last year, stopped filing income tax returns in 1996 while he pursued a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal income tax. He lost the lawsuit and the IRS is seeking to collect more than half a million dollars in back taxes, penalties and interest. His home was built partly with logs taken from state school endowment land; Hart never fully satisfied a court judgment over the timber theft. He claimed as a citizen he was entitled to take the logs. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
By the way, the reason that the foreclosure can proceed even though Hart's filed a third bankruptcy case is that a federal bankruptcy judge ruled in late February that Hart's third bankruptcy filing in one year is not entitled to an automatic stay on the foreclosure case, like the last two prompted. "The bankruptcy, when viewed in light of Debtor's previous two filings, appears intended to halt the progress of the federal litigation," wrote U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers, adding that Hart's petitions were "filed without regard to eligibility but with an eye toward delay and potential forum shopping."
A bankruptcy judge has ordered a tax-protesting former Idaho state representative to submit to intense new scrutiny of his finances, something federal lawyers say is necessary to prevent him from hiding assets from creditors including the U.S. government, the AP reports. Phil Hart now must appear at a hearing May 20 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Coeur d'Alene, according to an order from Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers.
Hart, a Republican from Athol who lost his bid for re-election in the GOP primary last year, has been ordered by courts to pay the federal and state governments more than $600,000 in delinquent income taxes, interest and penalties. He filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in January after the U.S. government moved in 2011 to seize his log home in northern Idaho to satisfy debts; it was his third bankruptcy filing, after the first two were questioned as inappropriate and were either withdrawn or dismissed.
With his order, Myers is forcing Hart to submit to what's called a "Rule 2004 Examination," a provision of bankruptcy law meant to untangle a debtor's murky finances; among other things, Hart must provide statements from every account he's controlled since 2011. Click below for a full report from Associated Press reporter John Miller. Hart told Miller, "My understanding is this is a normal process for a person going through bankruptcy."
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Government attorneys are asking a judge to rule in their favor in a federal tax case against ex-state Rep. Phil Hart and allow them to immediately foreclose on his northern Idaho log home. In a motion for summary judgment filed in federal court Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Keneally said there are no disputes over the facts concerning 6 of the 13 years for which the government believes Hart owes back taxes, and so U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge should rule in the government's favor for that portion of the lawsuit. Hart stopped filing federal income tax returns in 1996 while he while he unsuccessfully sued over the constitutionality of the federal income tax. The Internal Revenue Service is seeking to collect more than $500,000 in taxes, penalties and interest. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
A federal bankruptcy judge has dismissed former Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart’s second bankruptcy filing, opening the way for federal authorities to go after his log home in Athol for back federal income taxes, and for the state to launch collection efforts over his state tax debts. "We’re kind of in line behind the feds, and I’m not sure what’s going to be left,” said Bill von Tagen, deputy Idaho attorney general for the Tax Commission.
The federal foreclosure lawsuit already has geared back up; a federal judge issued an order today calling for Hart to submit to a deposition on Jan. 7 as part of the case. The tax-protesting four-term state lawmaker has been fighting court orders to pay more than $600,000 in back state and federal income taxes, penalties and interest; he’s lost repeated attempts to declare the taxes unconstitutional and to claim that legislative privilege should free him from some or all of his tax debts.
You can read my full story here at spokesman.com. In September, Hart sent the state Tax Commission a copy of a 63-page appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, in which, acting as his own attorney, he argued that the Idaho Supreme Court wrongly dismissed his legislative privilege argument and improperly scheduled a hearing at a time when he couldn’t attend because he was serving in the Legislature. Though that arrived at the state Tax Commission on Sept. 17, shortly before the deadline for such a filing with the high court in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Supreme Court never received the filing, and the deadline passed. In that appeal, Hart wrote that he’s a victim of “political persecution.”
Tax-protesting former Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, is now proposing in bankruptcy court to pay just $106 a month for three years to satisfy more than $626,000 in debts, a total of $3,816 - less than a third of the amount he proposed paying in his earlier, dismissed bankruptcy filing. The debts include more than $564,000 in back federal income taxes, penalties and interest, and more than $62,000 in back state income taxes, penalties, interest and court-ordered attorney fees and costs for the state. Hart appeared before a bankruptcy trustee Friday and refused to answer a barrage of questions.
Federal authorities have filed a foreclosure lawsuit seeking to take Hart's log home in Athol to satisfy his federal tax debts; that case was put on hold when Hart filed for bankruptcy in May, then started back up when his first bankruptcy filing was dismissed in August. Then, in October, Hart filed for bankruptcy again. Last week, a bankruptcy judge refused to postpone the foreclosure, finding that Hart had filed the second bankruptcy in bad faith. You can read a full report here from S-R reporter Scott Maben in Coeur d'Alene.
The great thing about the United States is that voters have the last word. And that should give many Idaho GOP candidates pause. Think of the sinking feeling that Rep. Phil Hart (pictured), the timber thief and tax cheat from North Idaho, must have felt as this year’s primary approached. No amount of help from GOP bosses could stop voters from holding him to account. No amount of help can save flawed candidates like District 10’s Brandon Hixon of Canyon County. You would think with all the ethics problems in the GOP, they would be concerned about how their candidates behave. Former Sen. John McGee was a punch line for the rest of the state, but in Canyon County he was a punch in the gut/Chairman Larry Grant, Idaho Democratic Party. More here.
Question: Who is the worst candidate, either major party, running for the Idaho Legislature this fall?
State lawmaker and tax protester Rep. Phil Hart has filed for bankruptcy — again — prompting a federal tax foreclosure case against him to be put on hold. Hart filed for bankruptcy in Idaho's U.S. District Court on Wednesday, almost two months after he voluntarily dropped his previous bankruptcy case. Hart, a Republican from Athol who lost his bid for a fifth term in the Idaho House in the May primary election, stopped filing federal income tax returns in 1996 while he unsuccessfully pursued a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal income tax. He lost that lawsuit, and the Internal Revenue Service is seeking to collect more than half a million dollars in back taxes, penalties and interest, partly by foreclosing on his log home/AP via Eye on Boise. More here.
Question: I'm starting to believe that our Artful Tax Dodger is trying to outlast the IRS and Idaho Tax Commission. What do you think?
State lawmaker and tax protester Rep. Phil Hart has filed for bankruptcy — again — prompting a federal tax foreclosure case against him to be put on hold. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone. Hart's new bankruptcy filing comes almost two months after he voluntarily dropped his previous one, acknowledging it was improperly filed under Chapter 13 of federal bankruptcy laws. His new filing is under the same chapter with largely the same circumstances.
At the Lewiston Tribune, opinionator Marty Trillhaase offers weekly Cheers & Jeers column:
CHEERS … to the Idaho Supreme Court. First it told scofflaw Hart to pay the $53,000 in back taxes he owes the state. That says nothing of the nearly $500,000 Hart owes the feds. Next, the Supreme Court said he wasn't entitled to preferential treatment. Now it has told him to cough up another $10,000 for wasting everybody's time with such a frivolous claim. The attorney general's office sought the payment to cover what it cost to take Hart into court. Just one question for the Idaho justices:What makes you think he's going to pay?/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. Full Cheers & Jeers column here.
Question: Marty Trillhaase brings up a good point. When does state Rep. Phil Hart have to begin paying back overdue taxes? Is the Supreme Court ruling merely a suggestion? Or does it have teeth?
The Idaho Supreme Court has ordered tax-protesting Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, to pay the state $10,128 in attorney fees and costs for his unsuccessful state income tax appeal to the court, finalizing a decision it first issued in June. At that time, the court dismissed Hart's request to reconsider his appeal; ordered that its earlier April 2012 decision rejecting the appeal be complied with "forthwith;" and ordered Hart to pay the state's attorney fees and costs. That order was issued "subject to the automatic stay in Appellant's bankruptcy proceeding." Hart had filed for bankruptcy, but has since voluntarily withdrawn that petition; his bankruptcy filing had prompted an automatic stay on other court cases involving his finances, including a federal foreclosure lawsuit seeking to foreclose on his Athol home for more than $500,000 in back federal income taxes, penalties and interest. That stay has now been lifted.
Hart repeatedly appealed an order to pay more than $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest; he has maintained that both state and federal income taxes are unconstitutional. In his appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court, he argued that his status as a state lawmaker should have entitled him through legislative privilege to more time to file his appeal after a 91-day appeal period had expired, because a legislative session followed the appeal period. The court disagreed, writing, "In this instance, Hart is just a taxpayer, with no greater privilege than his constituents."
Hart lost his re-election bid in the May GOP primary, so he leaves office at the end of his current House term, his fourth. Bill von Tagen, deputy attorney general for the state Tax Commission, said Hart owes the state both for the attorney fees and the underlying tax liability, and the state will be "seeking to collect it if we can." He added, "There's a lot of people in line ahead of us, unfortunately."
Tax protesting lawmaker Phil Hart has been ordered to pay the state more than $10,000 in legal fees and costs stemming from his tussle with the Idaho State Tax Commission. The decision was handed down by the Idaho Supreme Court Tuesday. The Republican Representative from Athol was ordered to pay $9,960 in attorney fees and another $168 in costs to cover the commission's tab in the case. In June, the high court dismissed Hart's last-ditch request to consider his state income tax appeal/Associated Press. More here.
Federal authorities are gearing back up for their foreclosure lawsuit against tax-protesting Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, now that Hart’s voluntarily dismissed his bankruptcy filing — which had placed an automatic stay on the foreclosure case. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge has lifted the stay in the case that goes after Hart’s log home in Athol, but at Hart’s request, agreed to a delay until mid-November for the first discovery deadlines in the case, due to the unexpected illness of Hart’s Kentucky attorney. U.S. Justice Department lawyers had asked for a deadline a month earlier/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Federal authorities are gearing back up their foreclosure lawsuit against tax-protesting Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, now that Hart's voluntarily dismissed his bankruptcy filing - which had placed an automatic stay on the foreclosure case. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge has lifted the stay in the case that goes after Hart's log home in Athol, but at Hart's request, agreed to a delay until mid-November for the first discovery deadlines in the case, due to the unexpected illness of Hart's Kentucky attorney. U.S. Justice Department lawyers had asked for a deadline a month earlier.
In legal documents filed in federal court in Boise, Hart's lawyers wrote, "Hart has no objection to the lifting of the stay," as long as the deadlines are pushed back. The lawyer's malady is described variously in the filing as "a sever staph infection" and as a "staff infection." Hart filed his bankruptcy case in May, just 48 hours before he was scheduled to be deposed in the home-foreclosure case, which seeks to take his house to settle more than $500,000 in back federal income taxes, penalties and interest. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Federal prosecutors are calling for Idaho Rep. Phil Hart’s proposed bankruptcy plan to be dismissed, saying it’s improper, it wouldn’t appropriately satisfy his half-million-dollar federal income tax debt, and it relies on an income source that will disappear at the end of this year: His legislative salary. Hart, a tax protester and fourth-term state lawmaker, was defeated in the May GOP primary, so his legislative salary will end in December. “Hart’s plan is not feasible,” wrote U.S. Department of Justice attorney Adam Strait in court documents. Hart had proposed paying $200 a month for five years - a total of $12,000 - to get his entire debt of more than $600,000 discharged. Most of that debt is to the IRS; it also includes more than $50,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest, and $22,000 in credit card debt/Betsy Russell, SR. More here.
Question: Do you think the feds will ever get Hart to pay up?
Federal prosecutors are calling for Idaho Rep. Phil Hart's proposed bankruptcy plan to be dismissed, saying it's improper, it wouldn't appropriately satisfy his half-million-dollar federal income tax debt, and it relies on an income source that will disappear at the end of this year: His legislative salary. Hart, a tax protester and fourth-term state lawmaker, was defeated in the May GOP primary, so his legislative salary will end in December.
"Hart's plan is not feasible," wrote U.S. Department of Justice attorney Adam Strait in legal arguments filed in federal Bankruptcy Court. Hart had proposed paying $200 a month for five years - a total of $12,000 - to get his entire debt of more than $600,000 discharged. Most of that debt is to the IRS; it also includes more than $50,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest, and $22,000 in credit card debt. The plan, Strait wrote, "fails to make adequate provision for paying the United States' priority income tax debts."
Prosecutors also noted Hart's refusal to answer numerous questions about his assets during a bankruptcy proceeding last month, from the home where he lives to the car he drives - neither of which he acknowledges owning. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Five Idaho lawmakers attended the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual conference in Salt Lake City last week, but only two – Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, and outgoing Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol – went at state expense. The others either traveled at their own expense or got scholarships from ALEC, a group that brings together business interests and state lawmakers to work on policy issues. “This was the only way that I could attend,” Barbieri said, “so I asked the speaker and he approved it.” House Speaker Lawerence Denney also approved state payment for Hart’s trip to the conference. House chief fiscal officer Terri Franks-Smith said several House members typically attend the ALEC conference each year, some at state expense. “I’ve known over the years it to happen both ways,” she said/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Phil Hart, the lame-duck representative from House District 2, is shown handing out flags at a Fourth of July Parade in Coeur d'Alene prior to this year. Opinionator Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman criticizes House Speaker Lawerence Denney for approving tax dollars to send Hart to the national an American Legislative Exchange Council conference in Salt Lake City. You can read Kevin's column here.
Question: Are you starting to wonder about House Speaker Lawerence Denney's judgment, too?
Popkey: State spends $$ to send Hart to ALEC confab, hire PR firm on Lowe case; IEA spends to back Repubs
Among a boatload of interesting items posted on the Idaho Statesman's Idaho Politics blog by columnist Dan Popkey are these:
* At least five Idaho lawmakers are off to Salt Lake this week for the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference, including defeated Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who is traveling at state expense, as is Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens. Popkey reports that Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, the Idaho state chair for ALEC, opted to go at her own expense; read his full post here.
* In the primary election, the Idaho Education Association funneled $9,320 into a new PAC called Idaho Republicans for our Schools, which used the money for robo-calls supporting five GOP legislative candidates: GOP Sens. Shawn Keough, Tim Corder and Dean Cameron, and GOP candidates Stan Bastian and Alan Ward. Rick Jones of Rathdrum, IEA vice president, a Republican and the treasurer of the new PAC, told Popkey, "There are many Idaho educators who are Republicans. What we're saying is let's vote for Republicans who support public education, they're not mutually exclusive." You can read Popkey's full item here.
* Word that Holland & Hart, the private law firm hired by the state to defend it against former ITD chief Pam Lowe's wrongful-firing lawsuit, spent $4,419 in state money to hire Gallatin Public Affairs Group for "litigation assistance" in the first half of 2010, including advice on how the lawsuit would be portrayed in the news media. Read the full report here.
More Info: Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart refused to answer many questions about his finances in a meeting Friday with creditors in his bankruptcy case. An attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice and another representing the Idaho State Tax Commission grilled Hart about his business interests, income, assets and debts during a meeting conducted by the trustee in Hart’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. Hart, a longtime tax protester who owes the IRS more than $550,000 and the state more than $50,000, said he thought many of the questions – including ones about corporations he helped set up and about the Athol house he lives in – were inappropriate or irrelevant to his bankruptcy filing. He repeatedly responded, “I decline to answer.” Refusing to answer such questions is highly unusual in such a meeting, said Ford Elsaesser, a Sandpoint lawyer representing the trustee in the case. (SR file photo of Phil Hart)
Question: What do you think was Hart's strategy re: not answering questions?
State Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, refused to answer numerous questions about his finances in a meeting Friday with creditors in his bankruptcy case, a move attorneys called unprecedented and likely to imperil his case in court. An attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice and another representing the Idaho State Tax Commission grilled Hart about his business interests, income, assets and debts during a meeting conducted by the trustee in Hart’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing; Hart was questioned under oath in the session at the Coeur d'Alene federal courthouse.
Hart, a longtime tax protester who owes the IRS more than $550,000 and the state more than $50,000, said he thought many of the questions – including ones about corporations he helped set up and about the Athol house he lives in – were inappropriate or irrelevant to his bankruptcy filing. He repeatedly responded, “I decline to answer.”
Refusing to answer such questions is highly unusual in such a meeting, said Ford Elsaesser, a Sandpoint lawyer representing the trustee in the case. Elsaesser said he has conducted around 30,000 debtor-creditor meetings. “I’ve never had a debtor decline to answer the routine questions that were asked,” he said. “Refusals to answer are not likely to be looked upon favorably by the bankruptcy court.” You can read our full story here from S-R reporter Scott Maben at spokesman.com.
State Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who was KO’d in the GOP primary during his ongoing battle with the IRS and Idaho Tax Commission over $600,000 in unpaid income taxes, remains unbowed. On the morning of the Fourth of July, Hart joined in the reading of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Point in downtown Coeur d’Alene. The event was advertised by the Kootenai County Republicans, who are standing by their man, even as Hart files a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan. Not quite as impressed were two Huckleberries Online blog wags, pseudonymed Ron Burgundy and Eddie Torreal. Ron: “The only document this sunshine patriot should be reading is the receipt indicating he has finally paid his taxes that all the other true patriots in his country have already paid.” Eddie: “I would rather hear him read the penalty section of the IRS code.” Tough crowd/DFO, Huckleberries print. More here.
Question: When did you last read the Declaration of Independence or some other historic U.S. document?
The IRS, Idaho Tax Commission and House District 2 voters may have turned against controversial state Rep. Phil Hart. But the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee still has his back. In an email circulated to local Republicans, county GOP secretary Sheila Waller encouraged partisans to join Hart for a public reading of the Declaration of Independence at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Independence Point. Waller told those on her email list that the reading will be complete by 10 a.m., an hour ahead of the Fourth of July Parade on Sherman Avenue in downtown Coeur d'Alene. See flyer here. (AP file photo: Ben Gates (actor Nicolas Cage) stealing Declaration of Independence in movie "National Treasure")
Question: When did you last read the Declaration of Independence?