Friday, December 17, 2010

Goodbye Idaho ‘ethics’

When a high-minded Idaho state legislator is punished for demanding an ethics accounting of a colleague, the obvious has occurred. The Republican--controlled state House has obliquely announced it prefers to run a palsy-walsy, don't-rock-the-boat frat house, even when misconduct is discovered, and to blazes with the public trust.

Strongarm tactics weren't enough for House Speaker Lawerence Denney. He added a shameful lie. This latest wrinkle in a sorry brouhaha that has dragged on and on is an utter disgrace.

Denney dishonored his position by stripping fellow Republican Rep. Eric Anderson of the vice chairmanship of the House State Affairs Committee for filing an ethics complaint against another Republican, Rep. Phil Hart.

Denney warned Anderson darkly that there would be "fallout" if he persisted in ethics questions about Hart. Denney now says, as if he believes the public is stupid, that it was an oversight that he didn't reappoint Anderson to the committee chairmanship.

Who's Denney protecting? Hart owes Idaho some $53,000 in back taxes and another $300,000 to the IRS. A state appeals court also ruled Hart committed a "crime" by cutting 8,000 feet of timber on state endowment land.

These facts aren't disputed. But Hart has successfully weaseled out of any legislative ethics punishment by enlisting the chumminess of Rep. Denney, who puts the GOP club above ethics, good government and the public.

However, Rep. Anderson has the satisfaction of knowing that he now stands far taller than the supposed "leader" of the state House of Representatives.

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