BOISE – Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, denied the ethics charges against him Wednesday in a formal response to a special House Ethics Committee.
“I have no hesitancy in accounting for, and defending, all of my actions as an elected representative of District 3,” Hart said in a letter to the committee. “I am, however, concerned that anyone could choose to base an ethics complaint on what ‘appears’ from ‘recent news accounts.’ ”
Hart is charged with possible abuse of legislative privilege for repeatedly citing the constitutional protection of lawmakers from arrest or civil service during legislative sessions to seek delays in his federal and state income tax fights. He’s also charged with possible conflict of interest for serving on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee while pressing his personal tax fights. The Spokesman-Review reported on Hart’s moves in a series of articles over the past month.
In a pending appeal with the Idaho Board of Tax Appeals, Hart contends that, as a lawmaker, he should have been given months of extra time to file a state income tax appeal because of the legislative session.
The state disagrees and has moved to have his appeal dismissed; the state Tax Commission has ordered Hart to pay $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest.
Hart also has had nearly $300,000 in IRS tax liens filed against him in Kootenai County just in the past year. The Ethics Committee will hold a hearing on Hart’s case July 29.
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