Advocacy on the Move
Idaho House Censures Rep. Priscilla Giddings Unbecoming Conduct
November 17, 2021
As the Idaho Legislature returned this week — primarily to tackle the issue of state and federal vaccine mandates — they had another issue to finalize before the end of the year. It was to follow up on a September hearing held by the Ethics Committee for the Idaho House of Representatives regarding an ethics complaint filed by 25 members of the Idaho House of Representatives against Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R – White Bird – 7).
The complaint was filed against Giddings following allegations that former Rep. Aaron Von Ehlinger raped and sexually assaulted a 19-year-old legislative intern. Von Ehlinger resigned his office following the accusations against him. At the time of the accusations, Rep. Giddings posted an article to her blog and social media pages that shared the name and picture of the intern, in addition to a claim that the victim’s accusations were a smear campaign on Von Ehlinger. The act of victim shaming or publishing information to cause harm to a victim, known as “doxxing”, was called out by several of her legislative colleagues as unacceptable behavior for any person, much less a sitting Idaho Legislator.
In the September hearing, the House Ethics Committee took testimony from members of the legislature, legislative and Capitol staff, from Rep. Giddings. Following the testimony, and heated exchanges between Giddings and the members of the committee, the Ethics Committee voted unanimously to recommend that Rep. Giddings be censured and lose her seat on the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee for the remainder of 2021 and 2022 for conduct unbecoming an Idaho Legislator. In the report, the Ethics Committee cited that Giddings was not fully forthcoming in how she handled the situation, stating the committee faced “repeated lying, half-truths, and total disrespect for the Ethics Committee.”
Censure, in legislative terms, is the public condemnation of an individual whose actions run counter to the body’s acceptable standards of behavior and has the potential to impact the integrity of the institution.
On Monday, the House took up the report and recommendations from the House Ethics Committee, which culminated with two hours of floor debate within the House Chambers. Rep. Giddings did speak on her own behalf as did several members of the House. Following significant commentary from both sides of the Committee recommendation, the House voted to follow the recommendation of House Ethics Committee on a 49-19 vote.