Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Debts of the Dragonslayer

An interesting decision handed down by the Idaho Supreme Court, as reported on this week by Eye On Boise's Betsy Russell, has forced to the surface one of Idaho's most colorful political characters. Friday, the Supreme Court of the State of Idaho ruled against former Congressman George V. Hansen, upholding a previous default judgment of $299,350 awarded to Ann Meyers and her late husband James for money they lost in an investment with the former congressman.

Meyers v Hansen (previously with two additional defendants) has been in the courts for nearly two decades. The plaintiff, Ann Meyers, sought a judgment that would return the money she and her late husband had invested in one of the congressman's get-rich-quick schemes, the defendant and former congressman attempted to avoid paying back the Meyers' investment and charged his due process rights had been violated. Ironically, George Hansen not only lost the $299,350 he swindled out of Ann and James Meyers, his refusal to admit he owed the plaintiffs for his fraudulent activity wasted the time of the court and cost him an additional sum. The judgment awards the plaintiff $732,927 (the initial $299,350 investment plus court-ordered interest).

If an average Idahoan had been guilty of fraud and had swindled money out of others, it would have been right and just for a court to force repayment plus interest. George Hansen is not an average Idahoan. That George Hansen plead ignorance in all of this, claiming he had not received notice of the default judgement and that he hadn't been given the opportunity to defend himself against the Meyers' accusation is ludicrous. As was pointed out in the decision written by Justice Warren E. Jones, at least one document was delivered to Hansen while he was serving his fifteen months in federal prison for bank fraud and another to his wife, Connie, at their Pocatello home. Poetic justice may in fact describe situations like these, where men taken down by their own greed are brought back into the spotlight for what that greed ultimately wrought. Clearly, had George Hansen admitted his guilt, guilt most anyone familiar with Hansen's financial schemes would certainly acknowledge, he would not have ended up with a judgement that more than doubles his debt to Ann and James Meyers.

Richard Stallings, the Democrat who unseated Congressman Hansen by an extremely slim margin of less than 200 votes, likes to say that following the 1984 election both he and Hansen went on to serve--Stallings in the U.S. House of Representatives and Hansen in federal prison. Yet, even with fifteen months of time served, George Hansen remains a highly respected individual in conservative communities throughout Idaho, southeastern Idaho especially. There are surely Idahoans who have read about the court finding against Hansen who still believe he is completely innocent. There are Idahoans who still believe he hasn't been given a fair shake, either when the House censured him in 1984 for failing to file full disclosure forms, when he was indicted on four felony counts, or in the recent court decision.

George "the Dragonslayer" Hansen has come a long way from his days crusading against the Internal Revenue Service and attempting to single-handedly rescue Americans during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Mrs. Meyers may never see a dime from Hansen and instead of resurfacing with his "Dragonslayer" image intact, Hansen now resembles a pathetically bankrupt former politician.

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