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Hart supporter fires back at lawmaker's critic

| December 28, 2010 8:00 PM

BOISE (AP) - An activist and supporter of Idaho Rep. Phil Hart is trying to lodge an ethics complaint against one of the state lawmaker's biggest critics, Republican Rep. Eric Anderson.

Lawmakers are already investigating Anderson's complaint against Hart, a Republican battling state and federal authorities over unpaid taxes. Anderson claims Hart's removal of state-owned timber without paying for it, along with his refusal to pay income taxes, violate his oath to uphold the U.S. and state constitutions.

Hart supporter Larry Spencer fired back last week with a five-page letter to Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, lodging complaints of ethic violations against Anderson.

Spencer claims Anderson has engaged in conflicts of interest in the Idaho Legislature because he's a contractor and voted in favor of contractor licensing legislation.

Anderson also worked on a state milfoil eradication program and lives on Priest Lake, which is among the Idaho lakes where milfoil is now being eradicated, Spencer argues.

But only House members can file such complaints, according to Idaho officials.

"Our rules on ethics are basically for the House, and I think the attorney general will say that a complaint from other than a House member is not acceptable," said Denney, who forwarded Spencer's complaint onto to House Ethics Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Loertscher.

"I really didn't look at it," Denney said. "I've got enough on my plate already."

Anderson said he hasn't worked as a contractor since he was elected to the Idaho Legislature in 2004.

"I kinda dove into this legislative thing headfirst and never had any time any more," said Anderson, who defended his work on the state milfoil eradication program.

"I do live at a lake where it's, I think, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and as an elected official I certainly think I have a responsibility to try to keep it that way," Anderson said.