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Eye On Boise

Anderson: Hart confronted him over ethics complaint, said he’s being watched

Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, who filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, that's the topic of a House Ethics Committee hearing later this morning, says Hart confronted him over it during the Dec. 2 organizational session of the Legislature, and Anderson subsequently was punished in his committee assignments, losing the vice-chairmanship of the House State Affairs Committee and being denied a third committee assignment he'd requested, on the judiciary committee. "They made this very personal with me," Anderson said.

"He confronted me, right coming out of the chambers, right there at those doors where you come out of the (House) chambers,"  Anderson said. He said Hart told him "that he's been cleared of all these things, it's ridiculous that I'm doing it, and no one is that pure." He responded, he said, by asking about Hart allies who've been looking into Anderson's record with a state milfoil fund and checking into his service on a local utility board. "He says, 'There's people watching you all over,'" Anderson said.

The House Ethics Committee meets at 11 a.m. today for its initial meeting in response to Anderson's ethics complaint against Hart, which alleges that Hart has violated his oath of office by fighting against paying his state and federal income taxes and declaring that they're unconstitutional; by invoking legislative privilege to try to win delays in his state and federal tax fights; and by illegally cutting logs from state school endowment land and using them to build his log home in Athol in 1996, and never paying an outstanding judgment over the theft.

Last Thursday, a Kootenai County judge tossed out Hart's appeal of a state Tax Commission order to pay $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest, calling Hart's arguments "wholly unsupported," "unthinkable," and, in his arguments that an Arizona case showed legislative privilege should exempt him from time limits to file his state tax appeal, making an "attempt to deceive this Court." Hart said last week he hasn't yet decided whether to appeal again.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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