Friday, October 15, 2010

An Idaho embarrassment

So long as Republican state Rep. Phil Hart remains seated in the Idaho House, he'll be an embarrassment to his colleagues and to the state. Hart mocks the law. He seems to know no shame.

He should be expelled.

There's the matter of unpaid federal income taxes, totaling some $300,000. Hart claims the taxes are unconstitutional, although that question has been settled repeatedly by courts that have upheld them as legal and dismissed claims to the contrary as "frivolous."

Hart's northern Idaho home near Athol has been transferred to a trust in his daughter's name, which reasonable observers would conclude is another way of dodging tax liens.

Hart also owes, according to the state, $53,000 in Idaho taxes.

Finally, the Idaho Court of Appeals said Hart committed a "crime" when he illegally cut 8,000 feet of timber on state endowment land—whose revenues are used for public schools—to build his home. The Department of Lands filed liens against Hart on a claim for $22,827, which he refuses to pay, claiming the right to cut the timber.

If this conduct doesn't make ordinary folks gag, this surely will: Hart's attorney, Starr Kelso, writes in the Coeur d'Alene Press that Hart's disobedience elevates him to the same level of civil disobedience and martyrdom as civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, who defied Jim Crow bus seating, and Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years for opposing South African apartheid.

How can Idaho legislators continue to defend this sort of behavior with their silence and indifference?

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