BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho House of Representatives officially gaveled back into session shortly after 9 a.m. Monday was the first day back after a six-month recess.
The first order of business was to take up the committee report from the House Ethics Committee on Whitebird Representative Priscilla Giddings who faced an ethics hearing in August after sharing a news article revealing the identity of an alleged rape victim.
After nearly two hours of debate, the House voted 49 to 19 to censure Giddings.
Tension was high on the house floor as lawmakers debated back and forth on the decision. Some debated in support of Giddings and voting no on the recommendation while others gave it the green light.
“Lieutenant Colonel Priscilla Giddings,” Rep. Heather Scott (R)-Blanchard said. “Priscilla is a local gal. She was born and raised in…” “objection! Mr. Speaker this isn’t in the report,” Rep. Chris Mathias (D)-Boise interrupted.
There was a full gallery watching the debate unfold and some silently air-clapping or showing a thumbs up after certain representatives spoke.
Still, many lawmakers interrupting one another to get their points across.
“Calling out the committee as having done some improper because of…that’s where the line is,” Speaker of the House Scott Bedke told Scott. She responded and said, “I'll stick to the character reference, then.”
Rep. Ron Nate (R)-Rexburg jumped in to call a point order then stated,” Mr. Speaker I wonder about the appropriateness of Mr. Speaker controlling the debate when he is the political opponent of the respondent in this matter.”
Bedke responded stating, “the gentleman's point is well taken, that is just going to be the fact of your life going forward.”
Some lawmakers stood up during the debate defending Giddings. Nate stated he believes the house ethics committee process is broken — and has turned into a prosecutorial process.
“Once an ethics complaint makes it to a public hearing, the House Ethics Committee lawyers up, hires lawyers who act as nothing more than prosecuting attorneys during the ethics hearing and that’s what we saw,” Nate said.
Others, ultimately 49 representatives voted in favor of censuring Giddings.
After about two hours of debate, the Idaho House has officially stripped Rep. Priscilla Giddings of her spot on the House Human Resources Committee by recommendation of the ethics committee pic.twitter.com/ldXtId2YSJ— James Dawson (@RadioDawson) November 15, 2021
“I do support their conclusions and I support this report and I support the responsibility of this house to do difficult things so that we might maintain the kind of decorum and behavior that is becoming to the House of Representatives of the Idaho legislature,” Rep. Gary Marshall (R)-Idaho Falls said.
Near the end of the debate, Giddings, herself made some remarks. She says this decision “doesn't hurt her”
“Removing me from a committee, it doesn’t hurt me. It hurts the 45,00 people in my district that I will not represent again in this capacity,” Giddings said. “This doesn’t hurt me. It actually frees up my schedule, and I’ve got a lot going on.”
Throughout her remarks, Giddings defended sharing the news article releasing the identity of the alleged victim and stated she wouldn't have done anything differently.