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Rep. Hart Fights Home Foreclosure

Tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart has cited his status as a state legislator numerous times in seeking delays in his court fights over paying back state and federal income taxes, pointing to the state constitution’s clause protecting lawmakers from civil actions during sessions. Now he’s using it as an argument for dismissing a federal lawsuit to foreclose on his Athol home for back federal taxes. In Hart’s reply to the federal lawsuit, in which the Department of Justice is seeking to foreclose on the home to pay off more than a half-million dollars in back taxes, interest and penalties, his attorney charged that the IRS claim is “barred” because a “notice of deficiency” was sent to Hart while the Legislature was in session/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Are you surprised that Hart is trying to use his elective office to thwart the IRS again?

Hart cites legislative privilege to fight home foreclosure by IRS

Tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart has cited his status as a state legislator numerous times in seeking delays in his court fights over paying back state and federal income taxes, pointing to the state constitution’s clause protecting lawmakers from civil actions during sessions. Now he’s using it as an argument for dismissing a federal lawsuit to foreclose on his Athol home for back federal taxes. In Hart’s reply to the federal lawsuit, in which the Department of Justice is seeking to foreclose on the home to pay off more than a half-million dollars in back taxes, interest and penalties, his attorney charged that the IRS claim is “barred” because a “notice of deficiency” was sent to Hart while the Legislature was in session. The IRS wants to sell Hart's log home in Athol and use the proceeds to offset more than half a million dollars in back taxes, penalties and interest; you can read my full Sunday column here.
  

JohnA: Give Hart His Day In Court

JohnA re: “Hart says IRS wrong re: payments”: Phil Hart has a very legitimate engineering business and is clearly entitled to his deductions, assuming he has written proof. If, as Larry asserts, they are are legitimate and provable, and all are being disallowed he should be able to prove that in court. Having prepared taxes for many years I’m guessing the end result will be that Phil will get his deductions, which should help to offset some of the interest and penalties that have accrued over the years. … I say let’s give Phil his day in court before we judge him too harshly.”

Question: Have we been quick to judge Rep. Phil Hart harshly (before his day in court)?

Otter, Solons Hope To Restore Trust

The crisis of confidence that’s left Congress with record-low ratings has infected Idaho government, and top leaders are sensitive to the dismay. Meeting with reporters at the Capitol on Thursday, Gov. Butch Otter and legislative leaders took pains to show they’re engaged, doing the public’s work and open to ethics reforms that until now got no traction. House Speaker Lawerence Denney (pictured) — oft-criticized for letting tax scofflaw Rep. Phil Hart off easy — warmed to a Democratic proposal to make Idaho the 42nd state with an independent ethics commission. Currently, lawmakers may be scrutinized if a complaint is raised by a colleague. The only arbiter is a committee of legislators. “Having the public have the confidence that we did the right thing (is important),” Denney said. “If there were an independent body to look at the facts, it might actually be a good thing”/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: What can Gov. Butch Otter and legislative leadership in Idaho do to restore trust in the Idaho Legislature and state government?


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/01/06/1941687/restoring-trust-becomes-bipartisan.html#storylink=latest#storylink=cpy

Hart Says IRS Wrong re: Payments

A state legislator from Athol filed an answer on Thursday to the federal government's lawsuit against him seeking to collect more than half a million dollars in back-income taxes. Rep. Phil Hart claims in the document that the IRS is wrong in asking him to pay eight years worth of business deductions, which he believes have been denied because of his book challenging the legality of the income tax. “No, they won't accept my answer,” Hart predicted of the federal government's reaction. “They never do in any lawsuit.” But his answer does kick off the legal process, he stated/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Are you surprised that state Rep. Phil Hart says the IRS and not he is wrong about what he owes in back taxes?

Idaho To Strengthen Ethics Law? Har!

Idaho legislative leaders from both parties say they favor new, stronger ethics laws for Idaho this year. House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, who in the past has single-handedly blocked new ethics laws, said he’s now ready to consider an independent ethics commission to oversee Idaho lawmakers. That’s something 41 states have, but Idaho lacks. “I really don’t believe, as far as ethics goes, that it’s necessary, but perception is reality,” Denney said. The Idaho House convened its ethics committee multiple times in the past year, mostly for complaints involving tax-protesting Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who also came under fire for his 1996 illegal harvest of logs from state school endowment lands/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Why is ethically challenged House Speaker Lawerence Denney now talking about beefing up ethics laws — now that Rep. Phil Hart has wiggled off the hook several times? Oh!

Hart, Barbieri To Face Challengers

Two longtime Hayden-area businessmen have announced their candidacies against Idaho Reps. Phil Hart and Vito Barbieri in the GOP primary. Ed Morse, who is challenging Hart, is a real estate appraiser and consultant and board member of the Reagan Republicans group; Mark Fisher (pictured), challenging Barbieri, runs an employee benefits insurance and consulting firm and is a past president of the local Rotary Club. The two, who held a joint announcement last month at a Hayden deli, say they offer practical solutions to the North Idaho district's problems, from jobs to regulations, rather than ideological crusades with little impact/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Can businessmen Ed Morse and Mark Fisher beat the hardline House District 3 team of Phil Hart & Vito Barbieri in the GOP primaries?

Hart, Barbieri draw challenges in GOP primary

Two longtime Hayden-area businessmen have announced their candidacies against Idaho Reps. Phil Hart and Vito Barbieri in the GOP primary. Ed Morse, who is challenging Hart, is a real estate appraiser and consultant and board member of the Reagan Republicans group; Mark Fisher, challenging Barbieri, runs an employee benefits insurance and consulting firm and is a past president of the local Rotary Club. The two, who held a joint announcement last month at a Hayden deli, say they offer practical solutions to the North Idaho district's problems, from jobs to regulations, rather than ideological crusades with little impact. Hart is the tax-protesting lawmaker who's still fighting back state and federal income taxes; Barbieri, whom Hart recruited to run, is a first-term lawmaker who's pushed for nullification of federal health-care laws. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
  

Hart Defends Public Timber Taking

Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, sent the following to the Lewiston Tribune, which accused him of being a timber thief for taking public timber without paying for it: “In 1995 I contracted with a private landowner to purchase a quantity of logs to build a house. When it came time to deliver, he could not fill the entire order. Due to springtime load limits, several other landowners were prevented from providing such logs, as they were unable to access their property with heavy equipment. After calling nearly everyone within 50 miles, I finally talked to a landowner who had the logs I needed. But he literally talked himself out of a sale by informing me, “I would feel guilty if I didn't tell you that since you're using the logs personally, you can take them off of state land. My dad and I did it when we built his house. He had studied the law and ran it by our legislator who verified this was lawful.” I then studied the law and came to the same conclusion. More here.

Thoughts?

Denney Gets Parting 2011 Jeer

JEERS … to Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale. The ethically challenged speaker had a banner year. Here's a sample:

  • He single-handedly blocked the House Revenue and Taxation Committee from even exploring the idea of joining a multi-state consortium pledged to help states collect the millions in sales tax due on Internet and catalog transactions.
  • After all but looking the other way at tax scofflaw and timber thief Rep. Phil Hart's transgressions, Denney pushed through new rules to keep preliminary investigations of legislator ethics violations out of the public view.
  • Which was convenient, considering the next blow-up involved Denney's colleague, State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona. A bill that might have hampered Loertscher's side of a road abandonment dispute in Bonneville County went from the House Transportation Committee, where it belonged, to Loertscher's desk drawer, where it disappeared. Denney arranged the re-routing.

Read all of Marty Trillhaase's year-end Cheers & Jeers column here.

Question: Which Idaho political leader would you Cheer or Jeer for his/her performance in 2011?

Hart, Barbieri, Adams Back Ron Paul

Bonner County Commissioner Cornel Rasor is leading the effort to line up endorsements from GOPlegislators in advance of Idaho's first-ever Republican presidential caucus on March 6. So far, four lawmakers are in the Paul camp: Sen. Shirley McKague, R-Meridian, Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, and Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens. That quartet is featured in a four-page e-flier from Rasor dated Monday, along with Coeur d'Alene City Councilman Steve Adams (pictured, in Adams' Facebook photo). Many Paul supporters hold precinct committee posts that give him substantial influence on the Idaho Republican Central Committee/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Are you surprised that Rasor, Hart, Barbieri, & Adams are bucking the Idaho GOP establishment and supporting Ron Paul for president?

Trib: Jeers To Hart For Wolf Claim

In his TGIF Cheers & Jeers column this week (full version here), Marty Trillhaase/Lewiston Tribune jeers state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol. “Not only is he a tax scofflaw and a timber bandit, he's now a certified blowhard. It will be a cold day in Athol before Hart's political grandstanding makes a difference in Boise, much less Washington, D.C. But that hasn't stopped him from trying. Hart claims Congress knuckled under and pulled wolves in Idaho and Montana from the federal Endangered Species Act protection because of his bill declaring a state emergency and authorizing the killing of wolves.

  • Rule No. 1 - Idaho can pass all the bills it wants. It can't trump a federal law.
  • Rule No. 2 - Get your facts straight, Phil. Two months earlier U.S. Rep Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, engineered a rider - and an alliance with Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana - to end federal wolf protection. ”

Question: Who would be a good candidate to challenge Rep. Phil Hart in the 2012 GOP primary?

Hart Gets Delay To Hire Attorney

Tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart has asked for and received a 30-day delay in the deadline to file his legal response to federal authorities' move to foreclose on his Athol, Idaho home for years of unpaid federal income taxes, interest and penalties. Hart, acting as his own attorney, asked for a delay until Jan. 5, which is four days before the start of this year's legislative session, to allow him time to bring on and qualify an out-of-state attorney and get him up to speed to file the response. “Defendant Hart states that the purpose of the continuance is not for delay, but it is needed for him to obtain counsel and allow said counsel to be admitted … and review the case in preparation for filing an Answer,” Hart wrote in his motion to the federal court/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

DFO: Pardon my cynicism, in dealing with our Artful Tax Dodger who's the darling of the local Constitutional RINO movement, but I predict that Hart will hide behind his legislative immunity in January and continue to elude the tax posse pursuing him.

Question: What do you think?

Hart gets delay in tax case, hires Kentucky attorney

Tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart has asked for and received a 30-day delay in the deadline to file his legal response to federal authorities' move to foreclose on his Athol, Idaho home for years of unpaid federal income taxes, interest and penalties. Hart, acting as his own attorney, asked for a delay until Jan. 5, which is four days before the start of this year's legislative session, to allow him time to bring on and qualify an out-of-state attorney and get him up to speed to file the response.

“Defendant Hart states that the purpose of the continuance is not for delay, but it is needed for him to obtain counsel and allow said counsel to be admitted … and review the case in preparation for filing an Answer,” Hart wrote in his motion to the federal court. Justice Department attorneys raised no objection, and U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge granted Hart a delay to Jan. 5.

Now, Hart has filed to have Kentucky attorney Charles E. McFarland represent him in the case. McFarland represented excavation business owner and tax protester Fred Allnutt Sr. of Ellicott City, Maryland, in an unsuccessful appeal to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2008, charging that a statute of limitations should bar an IRS notice of deficiency ordering Allnut to pay $2 million; the appellate court rejected the appeal.

The U.S. Department of Justice says Hart owes $549,703.48 to the IRS as of Oct. 31, for back income taxes, interest and penalties. It's filed in federal court to foreclose on his Athol home to satisfy the debt. The log home, ironically, was built partly from timber Hart illegally logged from state school endowment land in 1996, for which he never fully satisfied a court judgment. Hart, a Republican, is in his fourth term in the House.

Hart Takes Credit For Wolf De-Listing

It may be revisionist history or simply effective campaign rhetoric, but at least Rep. Phil Hart isn’t waiting long to correct the record – as he sees it. Hart, R-Athol, said yesterday that it was the Idaho Legislature’s passage of House Bill 343 that spurred Congress to remove Idaho and Montana wolves from the U.S. Endangered Species List in April and allow this year’s wolf hunt. Forget that U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and other members of Congress and Gov. Butch Otter have worked the issue since before wolves were reintroduced in Idaho in 1995. “I was one of the main authors of the wolf emergency bill last session, which caused Congress to delist the wolves about three days after the (Idaho) Senate approved that bill,” Hart told me/Dan Popkey, Statesman. More here.

Question: Which critter above scares you most?

Popkey: ‘Reasonable’ Republicans rebel

Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports today on the latest splits among Republicans in North Idaho, with a new group backing “reasonable” Republicans and another saying it's so conservative it disavows Richard Nixon as liberal.

“You can’t be on the Republican Central Committee unless you can look through a keyhole with both eyes at the same time,” former state lawmaker Dean Haagenson told Popkey; he's among the founders of the new North Idaho Republican Political Action Committee, aiming to find sensible, business-friendly candidates for the May primary. “We’re raising money to support candidates that are better than Phil Hart.”

Popkey reports, “Hart, R-Athol, is the best example of how the North Idaho GOP has veered from its good government, Chamber of Commerce roots. After seven years in the Legislature, Hart owes the Idaho State Tax Commission and IRS more than $500,000. He pilfered trees from state land to build his house. He’s been elected four times. Hart says that knowing what he knows now, he couldn’t support Nixon because he expanded government.” You can read Popkey's full column here.
  

Schools Grin, Bear Hart/IFF Bill

Some school districts in Idaho are now required to provide certain financial data on public websites as a result of a 2010 bill pushed through the Legislature, but some officials say the task is simply extra work for employees. House Bill 699a, sponsored by Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, and the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a Boise-based free market think tank, mandates that school districts serving more than 300 students post vendor contracts, collective bargaining agreements and monthly expenditures on their websites. The information must be easily-accessible from a district web page. Officials had until Thursday to meet the guidelines, though Melissa McGrath, spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Education, said the legislation doesn’t address enforcement of the law. Laura Rumpler, communication director for the Coeur d’Alene School District, says the law has added a burden to school officials, noting that adding the data to the website took about 20 hours in the last few weeks/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter. More here.

Question: Is this good legislation?

Charmin’ Andrus Leaves ‘Em Cheerin’

Out of deep respect for the good, great former governor of Idaho, I bit my tongue during Cecil Andrus’ disavowal of my book’s title (Cecil Andrus: Idaho's Greatest Governor”) during the opening of the Nov. 10 Boise City Club forum. His modesty is sincere. His sense of history though is flawed. The vast majority in the audience, as well as across this state, concur with the assessment expressed by the title as do most other serious students of Idaho history. Even at the age of 80 the zeal and skill with which Andrus skewered the Idaho Republican party for harboring scoff-laws like tax-dodging, state timber stealing Rep. Phil Hart of Coeur d’Alene, drunk-driving and car stealing Sen. John McGee of Caldwell, borrowing-his-association’s-funds party chairman Norm Semanko of Eagle, to ridiculing Tom Luna’s replace-teachers-with-a-computer phony educational reform was a thing of beauty to behold/Chris Carlson, Carlson Chronicles. More here.

Question: I can't help but think that Idaho's Republicans would be embarrassed into doing something about questionable antics of Phil Hart/John McGee/Norm Semanko, if Cecil Andrus was still governor. What do you think?

Trib: Another Jeer For Phil Hart

JEERS … to Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, northern Idaho's Never-Ending Story, Chapter 26: Politician who craves the power to write laws everyone else must follow while extending his middle finger anytime authority knocks at his door. Last week, federal prosecutors sought $550,000 in back taxes and moved to foreclose on Hart's Athol home - which, by the way, was built partially with timber he stole from the state of Idaho endowment lands. Hart contends taxes are unconstitutional - at both the federal and state level. Here's another reminder of a tax scofflaw GOP House leadership not only tolerates, but safeguards. If Hart insists on being an anarchist, why is he still in the Idaho Legislature? If his own GOP leadership won't boot him out, why are the voters of Kootenai County not ousting him?/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. Full Cheers & Jeers column here.

Question: Actually, Marty missed to mark a here. Rather than asking why the voters of Kootenai County don't oust Hart, he should be asking why the voters of House District 3 (Hayden, Hayden Lake, Rathdrum, Spirit Lake, Athol, & Bayview) don't give him the boot. Why don't you guys up north toss this guy?

Fed complaint against Hart seeks to set aside ‘fraudulent transfer’ of home to trust

You can read my full story here at spokesman.com on the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, which seeks to foreclose on his log home in Athol for more than half a million in back federal income taxes, penalties and interest. Through Oct. 31, 2011, the complaint says, Hart owes the IRS $549,703.48, for back taxes from 1996 to 2008.

Hart wasn't immediately available for comment. He's also fighting the Idaho State Tax Commission over more than $53,000 unpaid state income taxes, penalties and interest; though he's lost repeatedly, his appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court likely will come up for a hearing in April.

The federal complaint also asks the court to set aside the “fraudulent transfer” of the home to various parties including the trust, determine that the trust is a “sham entity,” and rule that “the United States has valid and subsisting federal tax liens on all property and rights belonging to Hart, whether real or personal, wherever located, and whether presently held or hereinafter acquired,” expressly including the Athol home. “The property shall be sold, and .. the proceeds from the sale shall be distributed in accordance with the court's findings,” the complaint states. It also asks that Hart be ordered to pay the federal government's court costs for bringing the case.

According to Kootenai County records, Hart's home, which sits on 10 acres, is only valued for tax purposes at $271,573.

Feds sue Rep. Hart, seek to foreclose on his log home for back income taxes

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed suit against Idaho Rep. Phil Hart in federal court, seeking to foreclose on his Athol home for failure to pay back federal income taxes, penalties and interest. “Hart has neglected, failed, or refused to make full payment to the United States of the assessed amounts and the interest and penalties accrued thereon,” federal prosecutors wrote in their complaint against Hart, filed in federal court in Boise, seeking $550,000. The home is the log home that Hart built partly from timber he illegally logged from state school endowment land, for which he never fully satisfied a court judgment.

Hart, a tax protester, also is currently appealing back state income taxes and penalties to the Idaho Supreme Court. He was removed from the House Revenue & Taxation Committee and agreed to give up his vice-chairmanship of the House Transportation Committee after ethics complaints were filed against him over his tax issues, his use of his status as a legislator to seek delays in his state and federal tax cases, and the timber theft. Hart continues to serve as a state representative, a Republican representing District 3 in North Idaho.
  

Feds Sue Phil Hart Over Unpaid $550K

You can read my full story here at spokesman.com on the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, which seeks to foreclose on his log home in Athol for more than half a million in back federal income taxes, penalties and interest. Through Oct. 31, 2011, the complaint says, Hart owes the IRS $549,703.48, for back taxes from 1996 to 2008. Hart wasn't immediately available for comment. He's also fighting the Idaho State Tax Commission over more than $53,000 unpaid state income taxes, penalties and interest; though he's lost repeatedly, his appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court likely will come up for a hearing in April. The federal complaint also asks the court to set aside the “fraudulent transfer” of the home to various parties including the trust, determine that the trust is a “sham entity”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. Complaint here, courtesy of Brad Iverson-Long/Idaho Business Review. (SR file photo, of Phil Hart's Rathdrum home)

Question: Does this make state Rep. Phil Hart a greater hero in Tea Party circles? Or are fair-minded Tea Partiers beginning to see through this guy?

Area Ron Paulers: We Have Overcome

Ron Paul's North Idaho supporters in the 2008 presidential election have regrouped for 2012. Now calling themselves “North Idaho Patriots for Ron Paul 2012,” they have been meeting regularly for the past few months. A scheduled gathering Thursday evening at the Donut House in Hayden attracted 40 people. An age-diverse group turned out to hear guest speaker Idaho State Rep. Phil Hart. Bjorn Handeen's baby daughter giggled and bounced on her father's lap as Hart spoke. “Many of the Ron Paulers from the last election have now been elected themselves, or joined other grassroots efforts,” said Handeen, now a precinct committeeman in Coeur d'Alene's “Borah Triangle.” “We need to cultivate a new group of activists”/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: Handeen goes on to say that the Ron Paulers are embedded in the local Republican Party. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Hart To Tout Ron Paul @ Donut Shop

For Gary D. & the rest of the Ron Paulers in Hucks Nation, state Rep. Phil Hart will be singing Ron Paul's praises at the Donut Shop, 8761 Government Way/Hayden, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Ron Pauler extraordinaire Jim Hollingsworth has circulated an email to friends, stating: “There are probably few in our area who know Ron Paul and what he stands for as does Phil Hart.  He has watched him for a very long time and has concluded that he stands where he says he stands.  So far no one has come up with a plan to end the federal debt, but Ron Paul has.” Hart's talk is titled “Only Ron Paul can set America back on right path.” Hollingsworth continues: “We have plenty of signs, slim jims, buttons and bumper stickers. Also someone has donated 10 of Ron Paul’s new books on a first come first served basis.” See ad here. (AP file photo)

Question: Does it help/hurt Ron Paul's cause locally to have Artful Tax Dodger Phil Hart pleading his case?

State: Same Rules Apply To Phil Hart

Attorneys for the Idaho State Tax Commission have filed their response to Rep. Phil Hart's state income tax appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court, writing that Hart seems to be arguing different rules apply to him just because he's a state legislator. “Appellant appears to be arguing that his status as a legislator excuses him from the requirement to file a timely appeal,” the state attorneys wrote. Hart, a tax protester who stopped filing both federal and state income tax returns for three years in the 1990s, had 91 days to appeal his order to pay more than $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest for tax years 1996 to 2004, but instead waited more than six months, saying an intervening legislative session entitled him to more time/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Reaction?

State reply to Hart tax appeal: Legislators subject to same rules as anyone else

Attorneys for the Idaho State Tax Commission have filed their response to Rep. Phil Hart's state income tax appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court, writing that Hart seems to be arguing different rules apply to him just because he's a state legislator. “Appellant appears to be arguing that his status as a legislator excuses him from the requirement to file a timely appeal,” the state attorneys wrote.

Hart, a tax protester who stopped filing both federal and state income tax returns for three years in the 1990s, had 91 days to appeal his order to pay more than $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest for tax years 1996 to 2004, but instead waited more than six months, saying an intervening legislative session entitled him to more time. Because it was too late, his appeal was rejected, a decision he's now appealed five times. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and read the state's brief here. Hart now has another week to file his reply to the state's response, and then the case can be set for arguments before the Supreme Court, which likely won't happen before April of 2012.

Trillhaase: Rep. Hart Delays, Obstructs

Idaho's courts are obligated to tolerate Rep. Phil Hart's insistence that it respect every single one of his due process rights before he pays his taxes. But the Athol Republican's constituents are free to judge Hart's actions now. As his latest legal maneuver makes clear, Hart is — to borrow liberally from Idaho State Tax Commission lawyers - clearly engaged in a “pattern of delay and obstruction.” Hart's claim to fame is that he writes laws for the rest of us to obey while taking a decidedly cavalier approach to following those laws himself/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Reaction?

Hart argues his state income tax appeal was stymied by his House duties

Tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart is arguing that a district judge abused his discretion by refusing to delay a court hearing when the state representative was in Boise, debating legislation to permit guns on state college campuses that he strongly supported. Hart, R-Athol, devoted much of his opening brief in his appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court to arguments over how a Coeur d'Alene judge, John Mitchell, went ahead with a scheduled hearing in Hart's case on March 16 when the Idaho House was “debating a very important piece of legislation which my constituents most certainly expect, and would demand, that I be present to vote on.”

Hart, who is contesting an order to pay more than $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest from the tax years 1996 to 2004, disagreed with the court's ruling that the hearing - on Hart's own motion for reconsideration of Mitchell's order rejecting his case - merely consisted of legal arguments by the attorneys and didn't require Hart's presence, but that he could participate by phone if he chose to. He declined. State Tax Commission attorneys have cited “a pattern of delay and obstruction” in Hart's tax protests, and objected to any further delays. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, along with a link to Hart's brief to the Idaho Supreme Court.

District 3: How Far Right Can You Go?

Conservatism is practically a religion in Idaho’s legislative District 3, the district that elected tax-protesting state Rep. Phil Hart four times and this year added two like-minded lawmakers he recruited to run. “I was considered a radical to my friends in California, and then I got up here and found out I was a moderate,” said Vito Barbieri (pictured), a first-term state representative and, like many District 3 residents, a California transplant who moved north. The district, which takes in Hayden, tony Hayden Lake, the once-agricultural but fast-developing Rathdrum Prairie and little towns like Spirit Lake and Athol, has seen massive development and population increase over the last decade, but its conservative nature is nothing new – the last time a Democrat was elected here was in 1994. No Democrat has even run for the Legislature since 2002, and then there was just one candidate, who lost/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Would you want a hardline conservative trio like Vick-Barbieri-Hart trio to represent you?

Latah Event To ‘Assist Phil Hart’

Gresham Bouma's Idaho senate campaign manager, Paula Bauer, announced at the Latah County Republican Central Committee meeting Tuesday night that there will “be an event to assist Phil Hart,” the Idaho representative from Athol who decided he didn't have to pay taxes for several years and took his losing case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He also built his rustic home with logs cut on state-owned land. The INKster wonders if the “assistance” is to help Hart pay his taxes and penalties or to help his re-election fund/Vera White, Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Question: Are you surprised that Latah County GOP would be helping state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol?