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Eye On Boise

Loertscher: ‘Write the other guy in if don’t approve of what he’s done’

Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, chairman of the special House Ethics Committee, said after the panel's meeting today that he's wondered why Hart delayed so long to file a state tax appeal that was due in December - he waited until March 31st - but decided "it's immaterial." He added, "That's not the way I would do business."

Hart claimed legislative privilege allowed him the delay, but the state Board of Tax Appeals said even if that did apply, he'd still missed the deadline. Loertscher said that left the ethics panel without guidance on the privilege issue. "I've thought about this and agonized about it a lot," Loertscher said. "It's a hard process. ... No matter how bad it looks, he hasn't violated the rule as determined by the majority of this committee."

Hart, who stopped filing both federal and state income taxes in the mid-1990s while he unsuccessfully pressed a lawsuit claiming that the federal income tax is unconstitutional, owes nearly $700,000 in back state and federal taxes, penalties and interest, according to public records. He was running unopposed for re-election in November until Hayden Lake businessman Howard Griffiths decided to run against him as a write-in because of his tax woes.

Loertscher said, "I think he's got enough constituents up there - write the other guy in if they don't approve of what he's done."

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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