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Phil Hart

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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.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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