Capitol Building

The Idaho State Capitol building is reflected in the windows of the Joe R. Williams office building in downtown Boise, Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

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The 2021 Legislature took its ugliest turn on its 108th day, when the House Ethics Committee weighed a sexual assault complaint against first-year Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, writes IdahoEdNews reporter Kevin Richert. Committee members tried to keep Wednesday’s hearing focused on fact-finding, often blocking cross-examination tactics from von Ehlinger’s attorney. But the hearing was unseemly and even more tawdry than it needed to be — and the lowest point came when von Ehlinger’s accuser, a 19-year-old legislative aide, testified behind a curtain, and was later accosted and filmed in a Statehouse hallway.

The ethics committee’s unsavory, unenviable job of fact-finding came to a close Thursday, when the committee recommended censure and suspension, and the first-year lawmaker turned in his resignation. But this is the job of an elected official, albeit in the extreme: the business of commanding and demanding facts. Difficult facts, straightforward facts. And the 2021 session has been a bad year for the facts, with real effect on policy.

You can read Richert's full analysis online here at, or pick up today's Sunday/Monday print edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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