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Politics & Government

Rep. Priscilla Giddings Campaign Tactic: Use Idaho Ethics Hearing As Fundraising Platform

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Darin Oswald
/
Boise State Public Radio, Idaho Statesman
Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, faces an ethics hearing in August after complaints alleging “conduct unbecoming” a House member.

In the wake of an Idaho Legislature ethics hearing, where fellow lawmakers called for her censure, GOP House Rep. Priscilla Giddings insisted that she was the victim of what she called a “mockery” and “dirty attack,” and doubled down by using the hearing as a fundraising tool for her campaign to become Idaho’s lieutenant governor.

The tactic, not unlike similar efforts by former President Donald Trump, isn’t anything new.

There is some research that suggests, in more recent years, that candidates and officeholders sometimes raise more money from donors after a scandal,” said Dr. Jaclyn Kettler, associate professor at Boise State University.

Kettler visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about Giddings’ campaign fundraising, and how all eyes will be on a pending vote from the full Idaho House on Giddings’ possible censure.

“We've seen some intense kind of ideological differences. And the Republican Party of Idaho is quite diverse in terms of ideology.”
Dr. Jaclyn Kettler

Read the full transcript below:
PRENTICE: The delicate balance for the Republican Party here in Idaho is that this is, at best, a conundrum and, at worst, a significant divide within their ranks that's about to play out.

KETTLER:  We've seen some intense kind of ideological differences. And the Republican Party of Idaho is quite diverse in terms of ideology. We've seen differences in terms of things like responses to COVID…other sorts of issues as well. And it seems like this will just continue to kind of play out where we're seeing some of the farther-right legislators or candidates, really kind of supporting representative getting through this

PRENTICE: For the record. Representative Brant Crane, who would remind anyone who will listen that he is one of the most conservative members of the legislature, was one of the harshest critics of Representative Giddings.

KETTLER: And I think that it's not just that there's just some ideological divisions here. I think there may be some kind of outsider-versus-more-establishment divisions. Also, there are some that are very concerned about the ethics of what has happened. It's not just ideological, but other sorts of positions come into play of values as well, when thinking about the ethical, or moral scandal.

PRENTICE: We should note that Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press is reporting that Representative Giddings said one of her first donations to her lieutenant governor campaign of $1,000 or more, came from out of state. So here we are again -, out-of-state money, which we're assuming will play another significant role in next year's election.

KETTLER: Definitely something we'll be watching. We know that individual donors tend to be fairly ideologically motivated. And so, you may have some out-of-state donors really interested in helping particular factions within these primary elections. It'll be interesting to see -nationally, Idaho doesn't rank especially high for huge amounts of outside money -, but it definitely can play a role. And so, it'll be something that we'll definitely want to watch, as we move closer to the primary election.

PRENTICE: Representative Giddings’ presumable opponent in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor is none other than House Speaker Scott Bedke. And we should note that he says, yes, the House will probably reconvene before the end of this year. And yes, they will take up recommendations from that ethics committee, which could include censure of Representative Giddings.

KETTLER: This is another really fascinating dynamic to all of this, since they are both running in the lieutenant governor's race. And it will be interesting to see how that vote happens… how clearly we may see some of these divisions play out, in that vote.

PRENTICE: And to some degree, it will be either endorsements or at the very least levels of support or dismissal… of not just Priscilla Giddings, the House Representative, but Priscilla Giddings, the candidate for lieutenant governor. That vote is going to be  pretty big

KETTLER: It will be a pretty major event, not just for thinking about what has happened this year with everything connected, but then also thinking about that primary election next year.

PRENTICE: Well, as if 2020 didn't provide enough drama here in Idaho, 2022 will certainly provide a fair amount of political drama.  Of a more immediate nature… when does the school year start for you?

KETTLER: In two weeks

PRENTICE: And your level of optimism is,,,?

KETTLER: Well, I'm always very happy to see the students. But there's still a lot we don't quite know yet. So… some questions, but I’m definitely excited to get back to the classroom.

PRENTICE: Dr. Jaclyn Kettler, associate professor at Boise State University. We look forward to many conversations with you. Best of luck with the upcoming semester. And we look forward to touching base with you as we get closer to the primary and, believe it or not, another big election. Thank you.

KETTLER: Thanks.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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