Lawmaker who ID’d rape accuser may lose committee assignment

AP National News

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, arrives with applause from her supporters in a packed committee hearing room Monday, Aug. 2, 2021 at the Statehouse in Boise, Idaho. Rep. Giddings was called before the Ethics and House Policy Committee following complaints of alleged “conduct unbecoming” of a member of the House. The complaints revolve around releasing the name and photograph of a legislative staffer who accused another member of the Idaho House of Representatives of sexual assault last spring. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A legislative ethics committee says an Idaho lawmaker who publicized the name of an intern who reported a rape 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 full House will now be asked to vote on the recommendation made Tuesday, but they will have to reconvene for the vote. It’s unclear when that will happen, but it could be any time before the Legislature’s next session begins in January.

Republican Rep. Priscilla Giddings became the subject of two ethics complaints by about two dozen lawmakers after she shared links to a far-right blog that included the name, photo and personal details about her the young woman who reported being raped by the lawmaker. Giddings posted the link on social media and in a newsletter to constituents.

The decision came on the second day of a public hearing, during which the committee found that Giddings engaged in “conduct unbecoming a representative, which is detrimental to the integrity of the House as a legislative body.”

The lawmaker accused of raping the intern, Republican Aaron von Ehlinger, resigned earlier this year after the ethics committee recommended he be removed from the Statehouse. Von Ehlinger has denied all wrongdoing. The rape allegation is under investigation by police.

Giddings declined to attend much of the hearing, appearing only on Monday to make an opening statement and again when she was called as a witness.

During her testimony, Giddings maintained that she had to share the link to the article presenting von Ehlinger’s side of the story, but didn’t explain why she included disparaging remarks about the 19-year-old intern who made the rape report. The Associated Press does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission.

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

Her combativeness and evasive answers left committee members visibly frustrated on Monday, with Republican chairman Rep. Sage Dixon at one point warning her that she seemed to be continuing with evasive behavior that prompted part of the ethics complaints in the first place.

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