Apparently, timber snatching and tax dodging can only get you so far--even in north Idaho. The political career of Athol Republican Rep. Phil Hart finally succumbed to its miasma of legal trouble when the four-term lawmaker was narrowly defeated in the May 2012 primary by Republican challenger Ed Morse. An avowed "tax protester," Hart has long been considered a standard bearer by Idaho libertarians but faced ethics charges stemming from the 1996 theft of timber from state endowment lands as well as a debt of more than $550,000 owed in back state and federal taxes and fines going back more than a decade. Hart lost his membership on the House Revenue and Tax Committee, as well as his vice-chairmanship of the Transportation Committee in the process and has since fought for extensions and appeals of his tax bills--even going to the Idaho Supreme Court, which dismissed his case in June. Even so, Morse eked out only a 5 percent win over Hart, who filed for bankruptcy in the weeks after the primary. Apparently, some voters like it when lawmakers, you know, follow the law.
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