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Politics & Government

Idaho House Censures Rep. Giddings Over Facebook Post

State Rep. Priscilla Giddings seated in the House. A name plate in front of her reads "Giddings 7"
James Dawson
/
Boise State Public Radio
Rep. Priscilla Giddings watches on as her fellow House lawmakers debate censuring her over a Facebook post she made earlier this year that revealed the identity of an alleged rape victim.

House lawmakers overwhelmingly censured one of their own Monday after she posted a link to an article revealing the identity of alleged rape victim in April.

Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird) posted an article on her Facebook page from a far-right blog this spring with the caption, “Follow the Money! Idaho’s very own Kavanaugh.”

That article identified a then 19-year-old legislative intern who accused former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of raping her. Von Ehlinger has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges and is set to go to trial next April.

A House ethics committee said Giddings was free to exercise her First Amendment rights, but that she’s not free from consequences.

“Exposing an alleged victim’s personal information may be construed as retaliation, could lead to bullying, and can cause such a chilling effect that future victims do not come forward,” committee members wrote in their report.

The committee said she was “combative” and “not forthright” in her testimony to the committee.

“Her repeated lying, half-truths, and total disrespect for the Ethics Committee, and the Ethics Committee process, is conduct that cannot and will not be tolerated.”

Giddings rejected those characterizations, saying on the House floor that she had “given [her] whole life to fight for the truth” and that she wanted to share von Ehlinger’s side of the story.

“I will continue to fight for freedom in a nation that is slowly losing it. I would not have done anything differently,” she said.

Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R-Genesee) was one of many Republicans who voted to censure Giddings.

“We were sent an intern to care for in this body and when we are sent young men and women in this state, I feel that we have the responsibility to care for them at a higher standard,” Nilsson Troy said.

Legislators also stripped Giddings of her seat on the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee.

“This doesn’t hurt me. This actually frees up my schedule and I’ve got a lot going on,” said Giddings, who’s running for lieutenant governor next year.

In all, 18 other lawmakers, all Republicans, voted to reject the censure.

Several defended Giddings, criticizing the process.

“It appears that this committee has been weaponized to go after political opponents,” said Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg).

House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) is also running for lieutenant governor and signed on to the ethics complaint against Giddings, which was submitted before either announced their respective campaigns.