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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

House ethics vice-chair questions why Hart removal from tax panel took so long

Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, who served as vice-chair of the House Ethics Committee that voted unanimously in September to recommend that Rep. Phil Hart be removed from the House tax committee, had this response to Speaker Lawerence Denney's announcement today of Hart's removal from the panel: "I think he should've done it right away. Why did he wait so long? ... I think he sent a message that it probably wasn't as important as maybe those of us who are on the committee thought it was."

Jaquet said the same lawmakers likely will serve on the new ethics committee to investigate Hart in response to a complaint from Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, but one change on the Democratic side is that Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d'Alene, retired, so another member of the House minority will replace him.

Jaquet said she wasn't surprised at the new allegations from Anderson about Hart, a tax protester who's waging a fight against back state and federal income taxes and who illegally logged state school endowment land in 1996 for logs to build his Athol home. "What I was concerned about all along was how he was tarnishing the reputation of all legislators," Jaquet said. "I think if he would resign, that would be an appropriate thing to do - resign before we have to convene an ethics committee."

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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