Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a White Bird Republican running for lieutenant governor, will face an ethics hearing on Aug. 2 over her conduct when a 19-year-old legislative intern alleged that another Republican lawmaker sexually assaulted her. The hearing was first reported by the Idaho Capital Sun.
The Ethics and House Policy Committee received two complaints against Giddings alleging “conduct unbecoming” a House member. Complaints can be filed only by members of the House, and they are made public only when the committee unanimously finds probable cause.
The committee is made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, with Republican Sage Dixon, of Ponderay, the chair.
Giddings, in a strongly worded statement, called it “dirty politics” that’s “par for the course,” blaming House Speaker Scott Bedke, an Oakley Republican who is also running for lieutenant governor. Bedke, who is not a member of the ethics committee, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
“While it’s disheartening to see him abuse his position in an attempt to smear a political rival, this is the way he has run the Statehouse, and it’s how he will operate if he is elected lieutenant governor,” Giddings said. “The people of Idaho deserve better than business-as-usual in Boise.”
Giddings also said that she’s “a recognized women’s advocate” and takes “a back seat to no one in standing up for the rights of victims.”
Giddings faced complaints shortly after she shared an article that disclosed identifying information of the 19-year-old woman who accused former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of rape. Advocates for sexual assault survivors demonstrated in front of the Idaho Capitol in May, when they called to hold Giddings accountable.
Annie Hightower, one of the woman’s attorneys and director of law and policy at the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, said Giddings should be removed from her seat.
“I think as a community if we are invested in ensuring that people who experience sexual violence can report and report safely, then we cannot have people in positions of authority outing the people who report … in the way that Priscilla Giddings did,” Hightower told the Statesman on Tuesday. “All that will do is result in chilling reports for anyone in the future in similar situations.”
Throughout an ethics hearing against von Ehlinger, the accuser was referred to as Jane Doe and kept anonymous by the ethics committee. She testified publicly from behind a black curtain. The committee unanimously recommended expulsion for von Ehlinger, who resigned hours later, before the House could formally vote on the recommendation.
The hearing for Giddings has been scheduled for 9 a.m. on Aug. 2.