We were glad to learn this week that Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, will face a formal ethics hearing on Aug. 2 for conduct unbecoming a representative.
During the Legislative session, a 19-year-old woman, who this year worked as a legislative intern and last year was a high-school page, reported that she had been lured by then-Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger to his apartment and raped.
The House Ethics Committee recommended that he be expelled. He resigned before the full House could vote on the matter.
During this process, some of von Ehlinger’s political allies behaved disgracefully — cackling during the hearing, for example. None behaved in a more wicked manner than Giddings, who publicly identified the woman called Jane Doe and posted an article from a right-wing blog that contained Doe’s photograph and information about her family.
It would be easy not to have a hearing, or to delay the matter until the next legislative session.
The easy way out would be to say to themselves, “She’s running for lieutenant governor. She’ll be out of our hair soon enough, one way or another.”
But they didn’t take the easy way out.
On Aug. 2, Giddings will have her reckoning. The decision to convene a hearing shows a serious commitment to accountability, and the House Ethics Committee should be commended for it.
Giddings appears also to be under investigation by the Air Force Academy, another institution that takes conduct unbecoming seriously, according to reporting from Boise State Public Radio.
The hearing should be relatively straightforward.
In many ways, the case against Giddings has even less room for dispute than von Ehlinger’s, because all of Giddings’ despicable behavior took place in full public view. Von Ehlinger denied that he raped Jane Doe, so the committee had to weigh the credibility of that denial. But they all saw with their own eyes what Giddings did.
Giddings had an obligation as a lawmaker to conduct herself with dignity, in a manner fitting to the elected office she holds. She instead behaved like a thug.
Giddings had an obligation as a senior member of Jane Doe’s workplace to establish a respectful and safe work environment. Instead, she demeaned and laughed at a 19-year-old reporting she was forcibly raped by a lawmaker and made it easier for Doe to be subject to further harassment.
And Giddings had a basic, human ethical obligation to treat Jane Doe with decency. She failed to meet the ethical standards to which we hold even small children.
Giddings has no place among decent people, let alone in a position of great power. She should be expelled from the House.
And if the people of Idaho were somehow to elect her as lieutenant governor, that would not speak well of them either.