Special Idaho House Ethics Committee Convenes

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The Idaho Statehouse is usually pretty quiet this time of year, but a number of lawmakers are gathering on Tuesday, July 6 to consider the fate of one of their own.

A special ethics committee will officially launch an investigation into the conduct of Athol Republican Rep. Phil Hart. An ethics complaint against Hart charges a possible conflict of interest due to Hart's service on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Hart has regularly waged a series of fights with federal and state tax collectors, arguing that income taxes are unconstitutional. Hart is also accused of possible abuse of legislative privilege when seeking delays in his personal tax cases.

Republican Rep. Tom Loertscher from Iona will chair the panel, while Democrat Rep. Wendy Jaquet from Ketchum will serve as co-chair. The seven-member committee includes Republican Reps. Dell Raybould, Bert Stevenson and Rich Wills, as well as Democratic Reps. Bill Killen and George Sayler.

In empaneling the special committee, House Speaker Lawerence Denney said, "I have full confidence in the Idaho House process and in the capable and experienced members I have selected. It is important for both the House and for Rep. Hart to have this matter resolved quickly and in a fair, even-handed manner."

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