The Justice Department sued the wife of former representative George Hansen (R-Idaho) yesterday, accusing her of failing to file financial disclosure forms when she worked for the federal government and when she ran for Congress.

The lawsuit against Constance Hansen -- whose husband served 11 months in prison for his 1984 conviction on four counts of falsifying financial-disclosure statements to Congress -- came after the department said it tried to persuade her to file the forms.

She was accused of violating the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 three times -- in January 1985 when she became a consultant for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in February 1986 when she left HUD and in 1986 when she ran unsuccessfully in a Republican primary for her husband's former congressional seat.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, seeks to require Constance Hansen to file the financial disclosure forms, to enjoin her from violating the law in the future and to assess a $15,000 civil penalty. The maximum penalty is $5,000 per violation.

Hansen said this week that, despite a warning letter from the Justice Department, his wife did not plan to file the forms.

"They came back at her after 18 months of silence with a sledgehammer," he told the Idaho State Journal. He said he asked Sen. Steve Symms to help block the suit.