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Politics & Government

Giddings Ethics Hearing Opens With Combative Testimony And No Decision

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Darin Oswald
/
Idaho Statesman
Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, faced an ethics hearing after complaints alleging “conduct unbecoming” a House member.

The Idaho House of Representatives ethics committee listened to five hours of tense and at times chippy testimony in a hearing to decide whether a lawmaker will be punished for disseminating the personal details of a woman who made a rape accusation.

Idaho State Representative Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird), is facing two ethics complaints centered around her sharing of a post from a far-right website that included the photo and personal information of a 19-year-old legislative intern who accused a lawmaker of rape.

That lawmaker, Aaron von Ehlinger, denied the accusation but resigned in April. Boise police are investigating.

Giddings admitted she shared the post but denied any wrongdoing. In her opening statement, she rejected the accusations against her.

“These accusations are unfounded, biased attacks, driven by partisan political goals, and I call upon this committee to immediately stop this unwarranted waste of taxpayer funds,” she said.

Giddings was combative on the stand, sparring with committee members and often refusing to answer questions. A room full of supporters, many aligned with far-right leader Ammon Bundy, at times clapped and jeered.

Giddings is running for lieutenant governor against House of Representatives Speaker Scott Bedke. She claims Bedke is behind the complaints, which Bedke denies.

But some of her fellow Republicans say they believe the complaints, including that Giddings was untruthful about posting the information when questioned under oath. Gidding is officially accused of conduct unbecoming a member of the House.

“I believe that that testimony is unbecoming to anybody. And not just a member of the House,” said Rep. John Vander Woude (R-Nampa).

The ethics committee adjourned Monday without making a decision. They will reconvene Tuesday morning and could recommend punishment ranging from reprimand to expulsion, although expulsion requires commission of a felony or using office for "pecuniary" gain, neither of which seems to apply here. Any recommendation would go to a vote of all House members.