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Representative Priscilla Giddings faces House ethics hearing, complains of “improper conduct”

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After months of appeals from sexual assault survivors and lawyers, another Republican House lawmaker is now facing an ethics hearing over her behavior as a representative.

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a White Bird Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, will face an ethics hearing on August 2 over her conduct when a 19-year-old legislative intern alleged that another Republican lawmaker had her had sexually assaulted. The hearing was first reported by the Idaho Capital Sun.

The House Ethics and Policy Committee received two complaints against Giddings alleging “unbecoming conduct” by a member of the House. Complaints can only be made by Members of Parliament and are not made public until the committee unanimously finds a probable cause.

The committee is made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, chaired by Representative Sage Dixon, a Republican from Ponderay.

Republican House leaders did not respond directly to a request for comment, but pointed to a statement by House members who filed the original bipartisan complaint.

“Members of the Idaho House of Representatives are expected and required to uphold high standards of ethical conduct as part of their commitment to the people of Idaho,” wrote the unnamed lawmakers. in the statement sent to the Idaho statesman. “The House Ethics and Policy Committee is conducting an ongoing ethics investigation of one of our members, and we look forward to a transparent and fair hearing. We respect the committee process and look forward to seeing it through.

Giddings, in a strongly worded statement, called this “dirty politics” which is “normal,” blaming House Speaker Scott Bedke, a Republican from Oakley who is also running for lieutenant governor. Bedke, who is not a member of the ethics committee, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

“While it is disheartening to see him abuse his position in an attempt to smear a political rival, this is how he runs the Statehouse, and this is how he will operate if elected Lieutenant Governor. “said Giddings. “The people of Idaho deserve better than the status quo in Boise.”

Giddings also said that she was “a recognized defender of women” and that she “does not stand up for anybody else in the defense of victims’ rights”.

Giddings was the subject of complaints shortly after sharing an article that disclosed information that could identify the 19-year-old woman who accused former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of rape. Advocates for sexual assault survivors protested outside the Idaho Capitol in May, when they called for Giddings to be held to account.

Annie Hightower, one of the woman’s lawyers and director of law and policy at the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, said Giddings should be removed from office.

“I think that as a community, if we are invested in ensuring that people who experience sexual violence can report and report safely, then we cannot have people in positions of authority taking out people who report… like Priscilla Giddings did, ”Hightower told the Statesman Tuesday. “All that will happen will be some frightening reports for anyone in the future in similar situations. “

Throughout an ethics hearing against von Ehlinger, the accuser was referred to as Jane Doe and was kept anonymous by the ethics committee. She testified publicly behind a black curtain. The committee unanimously recommended the expulsion of von Ehlinger, who resigned hours later, before the House could formally vote on the recommendation.

Giddings’ hearing is scheduled for August 2 at 9 a.m.

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