Republicans clash over Hart - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Republicans clash over Hart

Central committee will vote to remove leader over support refusal

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Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 10:22 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

COEUR d'ALENE - The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee is looking to boot one of its leaders for denouncing Rep. Phil Hart and his tax quandaries.

The committee will vote tonight on whether to remove State Committeeman Matt Roetter over his refusal to support the Athol legislator.

"This vote is important, because it's going to identify what the local party's identity is. If they vote me out, it's because a lot of people support what Phil Hart is about," said Roetter, who said he is a four-term committee member with two terms as state committeeman. "This vote's not really about me, it's about Phil Hart."

In an e-mail sent to committee members on Monday, Roetter accused Hart - who refused to pay income tax for several years - of holding himself above the law. Roetter labeled the third-term legislator as an "illegal tax dodger" and a "timber thief," alluding to timber on state land Hart used to build his Athol home.

Many had thought Hart's tax issues were settled before the primary, Roetter said. It wasn't until after that election that information surfaced about the government imposing hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liens against Hart.

"So I objected. I said, 'I won't support a guy who has these issues surrounding him, because it's not good for the Republican party,'" said Roetter, who lives in Hayden. "Character matters. Being honest matters."

After Roetter voiced this opinion among the central committee, though, the group approved 29 to 16 at a September meeting to vote on his removal tonight.

"The issue is not so much that he does not support Phil Hart," said Vermont Trotter, precinct 60 committeeman. "The issue is that he publicly disavows Phil Hart and then very publicly, as state committeeman in his official capacity, says he will not support him and absolutely support the write-in candidate against him."

This defies the primary process, Trotter said, which selects which candidates represent their parties in the general election.

"I don't care who it is. If the guy is elected through the primaries, that is the person we're obligated to support," Trotter said. "It could be Bozo the Clown, for all I care. Not that Phil Hart is a bozo."

Steve Adams, district 4 chairman on the Republican Committee, also said party support is expected among committee leaders, especially the state committeeman who acts as liaison between the county and state committees.

"Any position on the executive board requires leadership by example," Adams wrote in an e-mail.

Roetter said he had requested the committee delay the vote to instead focus on the upcoming election, but his request was unacknowledged.

Committee Chair Tina Jacobson, who has filled in for Hart at the Legislature, declined to comment on the situation.

Roetter pointed out that Hart's philosophy that income tax is illegal is not part of the Republican platform.

"If the central committee votes me out, it's going to be in support of a guy who stole timber off of state endowment lands and won't pay his taxes," Roetter said. "If that's what the central committee is going to be made up of, it's best I be voted out, because I disagree with that."

A vote to remove Roetter would require two-thirds vote from a central committee quorum. The vote will take place tonight at 7 at the GOP headquarters in Coeur d'Alene.

Trotter persisted that though he supports Hart's stance on taxes, Roetter's removal only means support of the primary process.

"This is the way the country is set up to operate. When the voice of the people speaks, that's the way it is," he said. "So get over it."

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  • resolution posted at 8:24 am on Sat, Oct 30, 2010.

    resolution Posts: 1

    Mr. Wherley:

    You appear to have way too much time on your hands, why don't you take some of that wasted time and educate your self before you make some of the comments you do.
    Jan and people like her know what they are talking about, because they have taken the time to find out the facts. I can not say that about you from what I have read of your comments!

  • Jan C posted at 11:04 am on Fri, Oct 29, 2010.

    Jan C Posts: 72

    To Mr. Wherley:

    I wish I would have seen your post before today, I would have responded sooner. The "anonymous write-in candidate" that you speak of is Howard Griffiths. However, he is not anonymous at all. He simply does not have the money for advertising that others running for office do. Neither am I a "cronie" of Mr. Griffiths. I am a concerned voter that has grown weary of Mr. Hart for a number of reasons. (not just his tax issues). I was frustrated in the primaries when there was no one running against him. More and more information came out about Mr. Hart after the primaries. It became enough that it caused someone to want to stand up to run against him: Mr. Howard Griffiths.

    Mr. Griffiths write-in candidacy is not the same as others who decided to run as "write-in" after they LOST in the primaries. Most of the information about Phil Hart did not come out about him until well after the primaries. When it did come out, Mr. Griffiths decided this behavior could not continue and put in his name to run against Hart. That is totally within his right to do so and the true reason for the write-in option. I was extremely happy to see that someone had stepped forward, so I called Mr. Griffiths to see if he would be someone I could in good conscious vote for. I could not have been more pleased. He was eager and happy to answer my questions (all of them). He stood for many of the things I want my candidate to stand for: School- choice, 2nd Amendment; believing the will of the people should be first and foremost. I also asked his credentials and found that he had been Public Works Director, Kootenai Sheriff''s Marine Division Deputy; Batallion Chief Fire Department and Business owner and CEO. All of these positions make him more than qualified to run as representative. Working at the local level like this can give great insight into the needs of the people of Idaho. I believe he is more qualified than most. I found him easy to talk to, with common sense ideas. He has a supportive wife, and cares about what happens in our government. I continued to read articles in both the Press and the Rathdrum Star to find out more about Mr. Griffiths. It took a little bit of extra work to find out information about Mr. Griffiths, because as I said he does not have the money that most career politicians have for advertising. But I was very happy with what I found and decided to do all I could to help him be elected. That is our right to do so and one does not have to be a ""cronie" smearing sour grapes and outright lies." There is no need to lie about Mr. Hart. The facts are as they are. I don't believe I, nor Mr. Griffiths, have ever said Hart was a crook. I won't speak for Mr. Griffiths, but what I have said, and still maintain, is that Mr. Hart's actions are less than ethical and all that he has done goes to character. He had no right to take those logs. That was state ENDOWMENT land which means it was set aside for something....our public schools in this case. It was long enough ago, that we could assume Mr. Hart may regret it and has changed. But that is not what his current comments reveal. His current comment was. " I think there should be a program for it." (taking logs off public land) He fails to admit the simple fact that there IS no program for it. So he had no right to take the logs. As far as him paying for them over and over. No, he paid for his defense and lost.

    These are some of the reasons I will vote very PUBLICLY and proudly for Mr. Griffiths. You can get to know him too, if you like. I think you will be pleased. Mr. Griffiths is a conservative Republican, but there is no Democrat running against him. If you are a Democrat, you may still want to write-in "Howard Griffiths" simply to show no one is above the law and we all must work within those confines until the law is changed if we do not like it.

    Believe me, Mr. Griffiths does not want to remain a mystery man. And I am not a friend. I have only met him one time, and talked to him on the phone a few times, merely to find out if he was someone I could vote for. I am not sorry I took the time to find out, and I put my full support without any reservation behind him.

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 8:57 pm on Wed, Oct 27, 2010.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    Chief Many Blankets,

    US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is about the high office, True Tax Cheat, of any I have heard of. He is democrat and the republicans called for his resignation because he is runny our federal treasury and TAX System. Where were all of you 18 months ago when a, true tax cheat, was put in charge of your treasury. Don't expect calls of outrage over a legislator thats is only challenging the tax system in court not actually cheating on his taxes.

    That the problem with you Intellectual Idiots, you have no common sense.

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 3:02 pm on Wed, Oct 27, 2010.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    The ethics committee has cleared Hart, The Courts have ruled on almost all the Tax issues and if Hart doesn't end up paying them in a way the IRS and State are satisfied with then he will have crossed a legal line, but right now he has committed no crime. Unlike people like our US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner who did cheat on his taxes. Hart choose to fit the IRS and you have to owe taxes and have a judgement before you can fight them, I believe he wasted his money without any way to win but it's his money to waste. Soon he will have run out of legal options and have to pay those taxes and interest and penalties. But he has done nothing illegal or unethical.

    What I see is an anonymous write in trying to win an election without answering any questions and using Cronies like Jan C to smear sour grapes and outright lies in an attempt to steal an election. I don't know Mr Hart or Mr Griffin, but I have tried to find info on Mr Griffin So I could possibly have a choice. I live less than a mile from his athol address and I haven't seen any signs of life on that property, other than it is well groomed and the driveway cost more than the trailer and landscaping.

    People I know, Know of him but noone can tell me more than what I have said, who is this mystery man?

  • tempter posted at 9:43 am on Wed, Oct 27, 2010.

    tempter Posts: 186

    Matt Roetter stand for something with his position on HART!

    Vermont Trotter's thinking is skewed!

    If Roetter gets booted, my wife and I will definitely leave the Republican party!

  • Chief Many Blankets posted at 8:36 pm on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    Chief Many Blankets Posts: 19

    I've been saying it for years, I bore myself. Republicons....sheeples. Can you imagine boys and girls, if Hart was a Democrat....the screaming and nashing of teeth could be heard all the way to the moon. But since, Hart is a Republicon in Kootenai County, he is 'above the law'....and one of his own refuses to endorse what do they do with him? Kick him out! Of course they do.

  • Nutter Watch posted at 5:29 pm on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    Nutter Watch Posts: 476

    Part of the Bush legacy was in reducing the Republican Party, at least here in n Idaho, to its unsavory core of a lawyer who profits from extending illegals stay in the country and a tree filching tax scofflaw.

  • CHSdad posted at 3:01 pm on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    CHSdad Posts: 369

    fiepie and northidahonative explain my position well. There is something very wrong when the GOP try to remove someone with some principles (he ignores the constitution) because he chooses to withdraw his support for someone who believes he can opt out of any law he doesn't like. Ohyawanna, you are like Monty Python's Black Knight. Your attempts to bite our legs merely show up the lack of yours.

  • northidahonative posted at 2:26 pm on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    northidahonative Posts: 1163

    ohyawanna, no one has said that the committee should remove Hart from the ballot, but they shouldn't punish members who choose not to support him. Doing so demonstrates the corruption and the single mindedness of the Republican Party. Instead of pulling their support for Hart they instead choose to support a thief, tax dodger, and hypocrite to represent the people. Just what crime or act would a Republican Candidate have to commit to lose the support of Idaho Republican's.. Remember that the Republicans in the State Legislature refused to even remove Hart from the committee that taxes Idaho residents.

    Just think of what the reaction of Idaho Republicans would be if one of the rare Democrats in the legislature were to do what Hart has done. Kind of like their attacks on Minnick for his votes on the stimulus Bill while remaining silent on Simpson's.

  • fiepie posted at 1:31 pm on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    fiepie Posts: 2821

    ohyawanna...So we are to understand that if someone wins the primary and is then exposed as a "thief", liar or breaks the law, that governs the rest of us, it is the back this person to represent us in a fair, legal and moral position.
    Mr. Hart stole the timber from the schools and from the State, disagrees with income tax, which a lot of us do, but chose to violate the law by not filing and, then of course, uses the defense that "others use to do this" and that he "didn't agree" with the constitution and therefore it does not apply to him.

    Why would you, and whoever else, "back" someone who is so arrogant (for lack of a better word) and willing to break the laws of this State and country, want someone like that who you have to stand behind or beside and "back" rather than someone who represents your morals, who you could be satisfied would be more willing to be "fair" to the people he represents and would try to follow the laws that he most certainly expects you to follow?
    Doesn't the Republican Party have any persons in it that are offended to be enclosed in this man' unlawful dealings? Other than Mr. Roetter, of course.

  • ohyawannafight posted at 11:07 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    ohyawannafight Posts: 2

    are you saying that Representative Hart is the one spearheading this issue? And what exactly is his power in it? I assume you suppose that he has overwhelming weight with the committeemen, and that his word is that of God. However, the status quo is not an issue of who is being elected, but rather of what is being proposed. Oh, and if you are going to quote me, then quote me.

    Jan C,
    Where is the Central Committee given the power to ask Hart to step down in an election? FYI, it would require a recall, which is only given through the petition of voters. This can be initiated by CC members, but cannot be part of the business of a meeting. Individuals can request his action, but, again, not in the capacities of an official meeting.

  • CHSdad posted at 9:55 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    CHSdad Posts: 369

    This just gets funnier. "the purpose of the constitutions (both state and union) is to prevent the common global occurrence of just a few powerful people's control over politics and elections". So instead of a few powerful people we have just one - Mr Hart.

  • northidahonative posted at 9:55 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    northidahonative Posts: 1163

    The actions of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee demonstrate just how ethical and moral the Republican Party is, once again their actions demonstrate the opposite of what their words say.

    With their threat to discipline Roetter they also demonstrate what I've been saying for years, the Republicans are allowed only one thought, one mind, one vote, if anyone varies from those rules they are disciplined by losing committee seats, campaign funding, and that good old boy comradeship.

    They defend the Primary, this year it seems they might have a point when it comes to defending a candidate with a Tax Problem, during the Primary this year it seemed that the majority of Republican candidates shared that problem, that's probably why they back Hart, they see nothing wrong with anything he has done.

    We've seen what the Republicans do when they're in power, under Bush they doubled the size of government, doubled the National Debt, destroyed more Constitutional rights in 6 years than were lost in the previous 200, and now they tell us they won't do that anymore, sure they won't, we can believe their every word, just ignore their history, and their do as I say, not what I do policy.

    A vote for any Idaho Republican Candidate who has not criticized Hart and called for his removal from at least the committees he sits on, is a vote in support of Hart's actions.

  • Jan C posted at 9:52 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    Jan C Posts: 72

    To ohyawannafight: Nope, don't wanna fight. I love my party and have always supported it.
    And of course I am not saying we should supplant the state constitution. What I am saying is the committee should have asked Hart to step down when all these things came to light AFTER the primary. Of course they have the right to do that. When this kind of controversy begins, it is the right thing to do if we want to maintain the integrity of the party. Simple as that.

    Of course we don't want to block the will of the people; I'm not saying that at all. Please re-read my post.
    Unfortunately, this issue no longer simply lies within the KCRCC. Their decision is apparantly affecting much more than they realize. The other posts here and the recent letters to the editor cleary reveal that.

  • ohyawannafight posted at 9:02 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    ohyawannafight Posts: 2

    Um...Jan C,

    Are you saying that it is perfectly acceptable to supplant the state constitution because of personal preference? Along those lines we should be more than fine with not paying taxes or stealing trees, and then there is the simple stuff, like removing ourselves from the union or not having access to trial by jury.

    Quite literally your statement is entirely wrong, the primary election's purpose is to establish loyalty within the corporate party to the one candidate the people voted for. If you are confused between the function of an individual's vote and a parties support perhaps you need to head back to high school. A party leader can vote any way she/he wishes, but when it comes to the party declaring support (in name and finance) it must be in line of the result of the primary, where the true party has made its voice known. Perhaps you need reminding that much of the purpose of the constitutions (both state and union) is to prevent the common global occurrence of just a few powerful people's control over politics and elections. Matt Roetter has made every attempt to blur the line between his personal preference and the KCRCC's stance, which is where the issue, in fact, lies.

  • CHSdad posted at 8:55 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    CHSdad Posts: 369

    "Any position on the executive board requires leadership by example" may as well be followed up by "Any candidate can be shown to have no integrity whatsoever but we don't care because we have no integrity either".

  • Dan Gookin posted at 8:41 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    Dan Gookin Posts: 680

    For years the local GOP rubber-stamped Larry Craig, even though they all whispered about his "hobby." One of the reasons that the public doesn't accept the GOP as readily as the Democrats is this type of internal hypocrisy. Some elected officials are crooks, some do very un-Republican things, but they are supported and re-elected because they have that R after their name. What kind of message does this send the public?

  • bkemdanno posted at 8:38 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    bkemdanno Posts: 259

    whats the problem anyways- howard griffiths is another idaho republican as a write-in. and apparently, he pays his taxes which means he gets my vote. simple!

  • Jan C posted at 7:55 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    Jan C Posts: 72

    "This is the way the country is set up to operate. When the voice of the people speaks, that's the way it is," he said. "So get over it."

    No, Mr. Trotter. You are the one that has it wrong. No one intended for anyone to maintain loyalty to a primary candidate when these kinds of things are revealed about the candidate AFTER a primary. In the light of things, the committee should be asking Hart to step down for the good of the party. If Hart had the right character, he would step down for the good of the party.

    In a twist of irony, I wonder how many on this committee supported John McCain when he won his primary.
    Or how many were like Mr. Hart who continued to support Ron Paul and Paul's recommendation to cast votes to the Constitution Party Candidate Charles Baldwin on election day. Yep, it's ones right to do so; but do you think we are seeing a bit of hypocrisy here? Now Mr. Hart wants loyalty at all costs.

    If Mr. Roetter loses his position on the committee over not wanting to support a candidate that has had these kinds of issues revealed about him, then that is to the detriment of the party.

    So voters, lets take Mr. Trotter at his words and show him, " When the voice of the people speaks that's the way it is."

    PLEASE VOTE for Howard Griffiths. It is not easy for a primary candidate to win. Please write-in Howard Griffiths and also mark the bubble. His write-in candidacy is not the same as other candidates who have lost in the primary, but are running anyway. Hart's issues were not clearly revealed until well after the primary. But it has since seemed like a never ending saga. Mr. Griffiths has stepped forward to give us a viable option. His qualification are: Public Works Director; Kootenai Sheriff's Marine Division; Battalion Chief Fire Dept. and Business owner & CEO. Most important of all, he does not believe he is above the law and he understands the need to represent the will of the people.

  • rollingthunder posted at 7:20 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    rollingthunder Posts: 344

    Birds of a feather flock together!

  • uncle fester posted at 6:23 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    uncle fester Posts: 831

    Reminds me of gang mentality. Support your fellow criminal.

  • TakeBackTheUSA posted at 5:28 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    TakeBackTheUSA Posts: 765

    This is the central issue in every race for the Idaho legislature. If, and only if, you support republicans - no matter that they are crooks or not, will you get any support. The Idaho legislature should throw Hart out on his ear but they won't because he's one of "them". Tells you all you need to know about how bought and paid for the Idaho government is.

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