Lawmaker who ID’d rape accuser may lose committee assignment

Aug 3, 2021, 1:48 PM | Updated: 4:02 pm

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Idaho legislative ethics committee decided Tuesday that a lawmaker who publicized the name of a Statehouse intern who reported that she was raped by another lawmaker should be stripped of one of her committee assignments for acting in an a manner “unbecoming” to the state’s House of Representatives.

The bipartisan committee voted unanimously to censure Republican Rep. Priscilla Giddings — saying she violated basic standards of conduct by targeting the young intern.

They also said she was evasive and disrespectful to her House colleagues during her ethics committee testimony and accused her of lying to the public in an attempt to paint herself as a victim of the ethics investigation.

But panel members stopped short of recommending more severe penalties, including expelling Giddings from the Statehouse or stripping her of her roles on other legislative committees.

Idaho’s full House still must vote on the recommendation and Giddings, in a statement, claimed the committee was corrupt and called its decision “a mockery of Idaho’s ethical standards.”

The intern’s attorney, Annie Hightower with the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, criticized the disciplinary recommendation as “incredibly disappointing.”

She said she and her client had hoped Giddings would face a stiffer rebuke for what Hightower called the lawmaker’s “abhorrent behavior.”

Giddings was targeted with two ethics complaints this year after sharing links to a far-right blog that included the name, photo and personal details about the 19-year-old intern who reported being raped by the lawmaker, Republican Aaron von Ehlinger. Giddings posted the link on social media and in a newsletter to constituents.

Von Ehlinger resigned earlier this year after the ethics committee recommended his removal from the Statehouse. He has denied wrongdoing and police are investigating the rape allegation.

The intern said making her personal information public led to overwhelming harassment while she was already struggling. The Associated Press does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission.

The timing of when Idaho’s full House will vote on the panel’s recommendation is uncertain, but it must happen before the Legislature’s next regular session begins in January.

Giddings during the hearing’s testimony phase on Monday was greeted with shouts of support and applause from militia members, participants in anti-government activist Ammon Bundy’s far-right “People’s Rights” group and anti-vaccination protest organizers.

Giddings testified that she felt an obligation to share the article from the blog when the ethics committee was investigating von Ehlinger because she said the committee did not disseminate a written response he had made about the rape allegation.

In her newsletter, Giddings called the rape allegations “nothing more than a Liberal smear job.”

Giddings also testifed she did nothing wrong and claimed the intern wasn’t a crime victim. She repeatedly refused to answer questions that she said she considered “irrelevant.”

Five lawmakers who signed one of the complaints testified Monday that they were concerned that Giddings apparently told half-truths while under oath in von Ehlinger’s ethics hearing about her social media post and that exposing the identity of the intern for reporting a crime — often referred to as “doxing” — amounted to victimizing her a second time.

Republican Rep. Julie Yamamoto said that if Giddings had admitted her errors and apologized, Yamamoto would have removed her name from the complaint.

“We have a loving God who is willing to forgive,” Yamamoto said. “But we have to own it.”

Democratic Rep. John Gannon compared the intern to a “whistleblower” who deserved protection from exposure, adding that Giddings may have put the state at risk of legal liability.

Republican Rep. Wendy Horman said Giddings repeatedly used the ethics complaints to fundraise — ostensibly for her own defense.

But Giddings apparently didn’t use the money to hire an attorney or to serve potential defense witnesses with subpoenas. Horman also took issue with Giddings’ claim that she takes “a backseat to no one in protecting victims’ rights.”

Rep. Brent Crane, a Republican, accused Giddings of repeatedly making “patently false” statements in media interviews and to the committee, including her claim that she was being targeted because she was running for lieutenant governor and that the committee worked with one of her political opponents. Giddings didn’t declare her intent to run until after both complaints were filed.

“You can go ahead and report that narrative, but it is a baldfaced lie,” Crane said.

Giddings in her statement suggested that Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, also a Republican, “trumped up these charges” against her because he is also running for lieutenant governor.

Bedke was one of the two dozen lawmakers who backed the ethics complaint. Other lawmakers testified that he was one of the last lawmakers they asked to sign the already written complaint.

Bedke has denied political motivations, saying after the complaint was made public in mid-July: “I believe all elected officials should be held to a higher ethical standard.”

If a House majority votes in favor of the ethics committee recommendation, Giddings will lose her seat on the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee.

But she would keep her seats on the powerful Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee and the Agricultural Affairs Committee.

Victims’ rights experts have said that publicly identifying people who report sex crimes against their will can make others more reluctant to come forward. The intern’s attorney, Hightower, echoed those concerns after the committee reached its decision.

“The recommendation does not demonstrate the level of accountability we expected for absolutely abhorrent behavior of pushing out private information about someone who reported a rape,” Hightower said. “It certainly won’t undo the chilling effects on future reporting of sexual assault that was created by the postings at the center of the complaints.”

After the hearing, some Giddings’ supporters expressed dismay on social media about the recommendation to strip her from the committee assignment.

On Facebook, Republican Rep. Heather Scott called her close ally Giddings the “Latest victim of the Ethics Kangaroo Court.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This image released by Polk & Co. shows the company during a performance of Roundabout Theatre Comp...
Associated Press

Review: Broadway revival of ‘1776’ shakes things up nicely

NEW YORK (AP) — The somewhat antiquated musical “1776” has long been ripe for a radical makeover and it has found one on Broadway. “Someone oughta open up a window!” an actor cries in the first scene and that applies to both the stifling heat of the setting as well as this revival, which brings […]
20 hours ago
Far-right Proud Boys member Jeremy Joseph Bertino, second from left, joins other supporters of Pres...
Associated Press

Riot plea: Proud Boys member admits to seditious conspiracy

WASHINGTON (AP) — A North Carolina man pleaded guilty Thursday to plotting with other members of the far-right Proud Boys to violently stop the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 election, making him the first member of the extremist group to plead guilty to a seditious conspiracy charge. Jeremy Joseph Bertino, 43, has agreed […]
20 hours ago
FILE - This undated photo released by the Arizona Attorney General's Office shows Guillermina Fuent...
Associated Press

Arizona woman seeks leniency in ballot harvesting case

PHOENIX (AP) — A parade of character witnesses provided a judge Thursday with glowing reports about a southern Arizona woman who admitted collecting four voted early ballots in the 2020 primary election, as her lawyer seeks leniency and prosecutors urge him to send her to prison for a year. Testimony in Yuma County Superior Court […]
20 hours ago
FILE - A demonstrator waves a flag with marijuana leaves depicted on it during a protest calling fo...
Associated Press

Biden pardons thousands for ‘simple possession’ of marijuana

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law, as his administration takes a dramatic step toward decriminalizing the drug and addressing charging practices that disproportionately impact people of color. Biden’s move also covers thousands convicted of the crime in the District of Columbia. […]
20 hours ago
President Joe Biden aboard Marine One arrives at the Wall Street Landing Zone in New York, Thursday...
Associated Press

Biden: Nuclear ‘Armageddon’ risk highest since ’62 crisis

NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden said Thursday that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russian officials speak of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in the eight-month invasion of Ukraine. Speaking at a fundraiser for the Democratic […]
20 hours ago
This image provided by WOI-TV, shows reporter Nora J.S. Reichardt. The Des Moines television report...
Associated Press

Iowa reporter announces on newscast that she is transgender

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines television reporter announced this week on a newscast that she will publicly identify as a transgender woman. Nora J.S. Reichardt of WOI-TV said that for a long time she didn’t think she would be able to reveal her identity on air. “I didn’t know if there was […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Lawmaker who ID’d rape accuser may lose committee assignment