RE: Ethics Committee hearing, Phil Hart
Dear Rep. Jaquet, (An open letter)
I was one of those in attendance for the Phil Hart ethics hearing, and listened intently for the duration of the hearings. My first observation during the hearing was, I actually felt a bit sorry for you. After the reading of the professionally ambiguous “charges” levied by the democrat minority leader, it was fairly obvious you were the one who had to defend these baseless accusations. The leader put you in a bad spot, and I hope you will let him know; for your own sake.
Although this hearing should have never taken place, the facts came out and the charges against Rep. Hart were soundly put down on all accounts; that was probably a good thing overall. However, the reason I write to you today is in regards to the tack you took once the facts and evidence made your position, a loser. I was shocked to hear that you were willing to vote to reprimand Mr. Hart, not based upon fact, but based upon “public perception.” As a side note Rep. Jaquet, you did not even provide a reference or supporting evidence to substantiate a negative public perception, so at best it is implied public perception; a weak case indeed. Furthermore, public perception may or may not be based upon facts, and most likely will be corrupted by prejudices. More often than not “perception” is formed by little snippets from the media. If implied perception be the essence of justice should we not just skip the legislature and the courts and just let those who generate perceptions (the owners of the newspapers, websites and TV stations), rule in all affairs? The point of this hearing was not to imply perception, or deliver an informal referendum from your constituents, but seek the truth and marry it up to the law; that is justice.
I was also troubled to hear the other two members of the democrat party on the panel parrot your sentiment (Rep. George Sayler Dist. 4 and William Killen Dist. 17). Rep Sayler even flatly stated, “Perception is reality.” Wow! Perhaps this is a “teachable moment” for the public. Perhaps the difference between the (D) and the (R) are manifest in this principal. Does a democrat believe that public perception should rule as law even if it is unjust? I know the essence of republicanism is the exact opposite. Its credo is one of written law, above any one man or group of men; one which holds in check the tyrant and the lynch mob alike.
Finally, I find your preference to perception over truth, inconsistent with a member of an ethics committee. I find no place for feelings or implied perceptions, in such a privileged position; the truth is all that matters. Had you your way, a great injustice would have taken place today to one of Idaho’s brightest sons. In light of that I would ask you resign your position on the committee.