Representative Giddings calls ethics hearing “dirty politics” in social media post

Representative Priscilla Giddings

BOISE (AP) – An Idaho lawmaker who made public the name of a 19-year-old intern who accused another state lawmaker of rape will face a legislative ethics hearing next month.

House Ethics and Policy Committee found probable cause Republican Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from the small town of White Bird, engaged in “conduct unworthy of a representative, which is prejudicial. to the integrity of the House as a legislative body, ”the committee announced Tuesday.

She has been the subject of criticism and complaints this year after sharing links to a far-right blog post with the intern’s name, a photo and details of her life with thousands in a newsletter. and on social networks.

Giddings did not immediately respond to an Associated Press phone message and email requesting comment. In a Facebook post, she claimed that a political rival was pushing for the ethics hearing to be a form of “dirty politics” and asked her supporters to donate in her defense.

“As a decorated Air Force officer and recognized advocate for women, I do not take precedence over anyone in defending the rights of victims,” ​​Giddings wrote.

RELATED | Representative Priscilla Giddings will face ethics committee in August over two complaints

The intern had reported to police and legislative leaders that Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, a Republican from Lewiston, raped her after they went out to dinner.

Von Ehlinger denied any wrongdoing and said the sexual contact was consensual. An ethics committee found he had engaged in “unbecoming conduct” of a lawmaker, and von Ehlinger resigned before the entire House could vote on whether he should. be removed from office.

The Ada County District Attorney’s Office told the AP last week that police are still investigating the allegation against von Ehlinger.

RELATED | Idaho lawmaker accused of rape resigns after ethics ruling

The AP generally does not name people who report sexual assault unless they agree to be publicly identified. The young woman who reported the rape allegation has already asked to be called “Jane Doe”.

She was repeatedly harassed after reporting the allegation. Rep. Heather Scott, a Republican from Blanchard, requested a copy of the police report and investigated how people who make rape allegations could themselves be charged with a felony. Giddings made derogatory remarks about the woman in a voter newsletter that included links to the blog post with identifying details. Giddings also shared the same post on his social media page which has thousands of followers.

Members of a far-right anti-government group also attempted to follow and harass the woman after she was called to testify at von Ehlinger’s ethics hearing. She then told the AP that the harassment was overwhelming during an already difficult time.

RELATED | Intern from Idaho who exposed rape, says lawmakers “destroyed” me

Under legislative rules, ethics committee inquiries can only be triggered if a legislator files a formal complaint against a colleague. These complaints are not made public unless the committee believes there is a probable reason to hold a hearing on the matter, so it is not clear whether any complaints have been made against other lawmakers.

After the harassment was exposed, hundreds of people contacted legislative leaders to complain about Giddings’ actions. The residents also asked the US Air Force Academy to investigate whether Giddings, who is a major in the Air Force Reserves, broke military rules.

The Air Force acknowledged in June that “an assessment is underway,” but since it is subject to federal confidentiality rules, it is not clear whether that review resulted in any conclusions.

The House Ethics Committee received two formal complaints about Giddings, but did not immediately disclose details of either, except to say that it found probable cause that one “misconduct may have occurred with respect to part of each complaint”.

RELATED | Lawmaker’s supporters in rape complaint name accuser

The public ethics hearing is set for August 2 at the Idaho Statehouse.

Lawyer for the intern, Annie Pelletier Hightower of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, said that when Giddings made the woman’s personal information public, lawmakers did “pretty much exactly what every person who goes through of sexual violence fears that his information will come to pass “.

Hightower said she was happy to hear that an ethics hearing would be held.

“This is an important step for the state if we are truly invested in creating a space where people can report sexual violence,” Hightower said. “I think we should expect better from our lawmakers, and I’m glad there is an accountability process going on.”

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Giddings claimed House Speaker Scott Bedke had “militarized” the ethics hearing against her and asked people to donate her. Bedke and Giddings are both running for lieutenant governor.

Bedke could not immediately be reached for comment.

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