Rep. Priscilla Giddings

Priscilla Giddings

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Idaho state Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, who faces an Aug. 2 House Ethics Committee hearing into two complaints regarding her promoting to thousands of her followers and constituents a website post including the name, photo and personal information of a young woman who accused former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of rape, is decrying the ethics investigation as "dirty politics" and pointing the finger at House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. Bedke has responded to Giddings' accusations, which came in a fundraising post on her campaign Facebook page, with a statement of his own, calling her comments "inaccurate." Both Giddings and Bedke have announced they're running for lieutenant governor of Idaho in 2022's GOP primary, as has former state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene. The office will be open that year as current Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin has announced she'll challenge incumbent governor and fellow Republican Brad Little rather than seek re-election.

Here are the full statements from Giddings on Facebook and from Bedke, sent out in an email from his campaign:

Giddings Facebook post

"Sadly, the kind of dirty politics Speaker Scott Bedke is now playing with his weaponized "ethics" hearing is just par for the course.

Bedke has consistently used his position to push sweetheart deals for special interests and big payouts for his buddies. And he's working to keep our taxes high to pay for it all, single-handedly killing my grocery tax repeal for years!

It comes as no surprise that Speaker Bedke, who recently announced he is running for Lt. Governor, is trying to use his position and perhaps tens of thousands of your hard-earned tax dollars in a blatant attempt to defeat me, his primary opponent.

As a decorated Air Force officer and a recognized women's advocate, I take a backseat to no one in standing up for the rights of victims. I will not be silenced. I will not sit down and shut up. I will not stop fighting for the people of Idaho.

Stand with me, and with thousands upon thousands of Idahoans who are already fighting back.

Donate now to help me defeat this dirty attack, and to take my message of freedom statewide!"

Scott Bedke Responds to Inaccurate Comments

"BOISE, Idaho – Speaker of the House and candidate for Idaho’s Lt. Governor Scott Bedke is responding to some false claims made by Rep. Priscilla Giddings, who is currently facing an Ethics investigation.

“The timeline of events simply doesn’t match Rep. Gidding’s assertion that there is some type of political smear campaign targeting her based upon the Ethics investigation,” said Speaker Bedke. “Her attempt to excuse Rep. von Ehlinger’s conduct through her admitted publication of his alleged victim’s information is worthy of investigation by the Ethics Committee. This is why I signed on with 24 other House members to make that request on May 3rd, 2021. Rep. Giddings did not declare her intention to seek a statewide office until May 21st, 2021. Rep. Giddings is now attempting to deflect and use the investigation as a fundraising tactic.

I believe all elected officials should be held to a higher ethical standard -- that was the intent of adding my name to the letter. I am looking forward to the fair and impartial deliberations of the Ethics committee on this issue.”

And here is a full report on this from the Associated Press:

By Keith Ridler

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Rep. Priscilla Giddings says an ethics investigation she’s facing is “dirty politics,” but her opponent in the race for lieutenant governor, House Speaker Scott Bedke, said Wednesday the probe is legitimate and the complaint signed by a bipartisan group of 24 lawmakers was dated before Giddings announced she was running.

The House Ethics and Policy Committee received two formal complaints earlier this year that center on Giddings publicizing the name of a 19-year-old intern who accused another state lawmaker of rape. That lawmaker, Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, a Republican from Lewiston, was himself the subject of an ethics hearing earlier this year, at which Giddings testified.

One complaint against Giddings was filed by Republican Rep. Greg Chaney in April. A second complaint was filed in May and signed by dozens of lawmakers, including Bedke.

The second complaint also says that during the ethics hearing for von Ehlinger, Giddings misrepresented her actions identifying the alleged rape victim while under oath.

The committee on Tuesday found probable cause that Giddings engaged in “conduct unbecoming a representative, which is detrimental to the integrity of the House as a legislative body.” The committee is holding a public hearing in August.

Giddings on Tuesday, responding to news of the ethics investigation, on Facebook wrote: “Sadly, the kind of dirty politics Speaker Scott Bedke is now playing with his weaponized ‘ethics’ hearing is just par for the course.”

Bedke, in a statement, said Giddings is attempting to deflect and use the investigation to raise money for her run for lieutenant governor.

“I believe all elected officials should be held to a higher ethical standard — that was the intent of adding my name to the letter,” Bedke said. “I am looking forward to the fair and impartial deliberations of the Ethics committee on this issue.”

Bedke in his statement noted that the complaint signed by the lawmakers is dated May 3, before Giddings announced she was running for lieutenant governor on May 21.

Both lawmakers are Republicans. Giddings is on the far-right, while Bedke is more in the mainstream of Idaho Republicans.

Complaints aren’t made public unless the committee finds there is probable cause to hold a hearing.

Giddings faced criticism and complaints this year after sharing links to a far-right blog post that included the intern’s name, photo and details about her life with thousands of people in a newsletter and on social media.

The intern had reported to police and legislative leaders that von Ehlinger had raped her after they went out to dinner.

Von Ehlinger has denied any wrongdoing and said the sexual contact was consensual. The ethics committee found he engaged in “conduct unbecoming” a lawmaker, and he resigned before the full House could vote on whether to remove him from office.

The Ada County prosecutor’s office told The Associated Press last week that police were still investigating the allegation against von Ehlinger.

The AP generally doesn’t name people who report sexual assaults unless they agree to be publicly identified.

The complaint filed by the 24 lawmakers specifically cites Giddings testimony during the ethics hearing for von Ehlinger where she was directly asked if she publicized the name of the intern, referred to as Jane Doe during the hearing.

“Rep. Giddings appeared to misrepresent her actions to the Ethics and House Policy Committee while under oath,” the complaint states. “She was directly asked to confirm that she had posted a picture of Jane Doe. She responded, ‘That is not correct.’ When pressed further by a committee member who pulled up her Facebook post and could see the photo, she feigned ignorance as to whether she had posted the image. When asked if she is the administrator of her Facebook account, she would not answer the question.”

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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