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Rep. Priscilla Giddings to face ethics committee in August for two complaints

Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R, White Bird) and Rep. Tammy Nichols (R, Middleton)
Otto Kitsinger
Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird (left) and Rep. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, talk at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R, White Bird) and Rep. Tammy Nichols (R, Middleton) talk at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

The public hearing will be held at 9 a.m. Aug. 2 at the Idaho Capitol in Boise

According to the Idaho Legislature’s House Journal, the House Ethics Committee has received two complaints against Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, alleging conduct unbecoming of a representative which is detrimental to the integrity of the House as a legislative body.

The journal states the committee conducted a preliminary investigation and found probable cause exists that misconduct may have occurred regarding a portion of each complaint.

Olivia Heersink, spokesperson for the Idaho House and Senate Democrats, said one complaint was filed by a mix of Republicans and Democrats, and they are making an effort to keep the matter nonpartisan.

Heersink sent a statement from the group without naming the members that read, “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. The Ethics and House Policy Committee is conducting an ongoing ethics investigation into one of our members, and we are looking forward to a transparent and fair hearing. We respect the committee’s process and are looking forward to seeing it through to the end.”

Boise State Public Radio reported in June that Giddings was facing an ethics investigation for publicizing the personal information of a 19-year-old legislative staffer who accused former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, R-Lewiston, of rape. Giddings posted a link to her Facebook page in April that included the woman’s photo and name.

Giddings did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Annie Hightower, who represented the staffer who was identified by Giddings, told the Sun the committee made the appropriate decision.

“People who experience sexual violence choose the majority of the time not to report it for many reasons, one of those reasons being that they are scared for their safety, particularly if it’s someone in a position of power who assaulted them,” Hightower said. “So if we’re really invested in making sure victims feel safe to come forward, then Rep. Giddings’ behavior needs to be investigated and there needs to be some accountability for it.”

Von Ehlinger said he did nothing wrong but resigned his seat after the ethics committee voted to have him suspended. Boise Police Department spokesperson Haley Williams told the Idaho Capital Sun on Tuesday that the findings of the criminal investigation of the rape allegation have been referred to the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office for a decision on charges.

Giddings announced she would run for lieutenant governor in May, and Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, announced his own run for lieutenant governor in June. Giddings told Boise State Public Radio in an email that the investigation was a political attack, which Bedke called “patently false.”

Boise State Public Radio also reported an email showed the Air Force Academy was looking into complaints against Giddings, who is a fighter pilot, an academy graduate and a major in the Air Force Reserves.

The committee will hold a public hearing on both partial complaints at 9 a.m. Aug. 2 at the Idaho Capitol in Boise, and if necessary, the hearing will continue on the following day.