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Rep. von Ehlinger resigns shortly before House vote on motion to censure him

von Ehlinger
Posted at 11:13 AM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 10:09:12-04

BOISE, Idaho — Lewiston Representative Aaron von Ehlinger resigned his position, shortly before the Idaho House of Representatives was set to vote on a motion to censure him.

Speaker of the House Scott Bedke confirmed the resignation.

In a letter read by Chief Clerk of the House Carrie Maulin, von Ehlinger said he will not be able to continue to represent his constituents and resigned effective immediately. In the statement, von Ehlinger maintained his innocence.

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The House Democratic Caucus issued the following statement after the resignation:

“We are in awe of Jane Doe’s bravery in coming forward and testifying before the House Ethics Committee. We also applaud the other women who spoke during the hearing and shared their stories. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to make a report and participate in such a public process.

If we are to eliminate sexual assault and abuse, we must create an environment for safe, supportive reporting by survivors. We are deeply disappointed that at least one lawmaker, a journalist, and several audience members at the hearing sought to reveal Jane Doe’s identity and further traumatize her.

Our caucus is thankful for the committee’s due diligence in this matter, and know their recommendation was made after an exhaustive investigation and careful deliberations. We completely support their recommendation, as well as Rep. von Ehlinger’s decision to resign. However, we wish he would have done this before forcing Jane Doe and the other women to relive their experiences within the public sphere. His actions were inexcusable, and the behavior he displayed must not be tolerated here — or anywhere. We have to ensure individuals always remain accountable for their actions no matter their station.”

House roll call

In a statement, Bedke thanked Jane Doe for her testimony and said the Ethics Committee "accurately" determined the former representative "engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of this House":

“First, let me thank Jane Doe for her incredible courage and determination in testifying in front of the Ethics and House Policy Committee yesterday,” said Speaker of the House Scott Bedke. “Every member of the House of Representatives is not only expected but required to perform their duties with the highest levels of integrity and dignity. Former Representative Aaron von Ehlinger was found by the Ethics Committee to fall far short of that requirement. After a transparent and fair hearing, the Committee accurately determined that von Ehlinger engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of this House. His behavior is something we will not tolerate and casts a shadow over the good work done in the Idaho Statehouse. It is our privilege to serve and practicing strong ethics is central to serving in these hallowed halls.”

The House Ethics and Policy Committee motioned to censure von Ehlinger Thursday morning. Gov. Brad Little issued the following statement after the recommendation:

I applaud Jane Doe and the other brave women for their courage in telling their stories and participating in this process to hold Representative Aaron von Ehlinger accountable for his deeply damaging and shameful actions. I fully support the House Ethics and House Policy Committee’s recommendation to expel Representative Aaron von Ehlinger. Representative von Ehlinger’s inappropriate and alarming actions stand in opposition to the values and behavior state elected officials must uphold. Being elected by the people and serving in a legislative body carries immense weight and responsibility to act with dignity, civility, and integrity at all times. State elected officials are held to a higher standard. As a former state senator and Lieutenant Governor, I personally understand the importance of preserving the credibility of the legislative institution so the people of Idaho can have confidence in their state government. Now, the public expects the full Idaho House Representatives to carry out the recommendation of the committee and ensure the integrity of the Idaho Legislature.
Gov. Brad Little

The Associated Press reports the investigation into von Ehlinger started in March after a young staffer reported he raped her in his apartment after they had dinner in his Boise apartment. Von Elingher has denied all wrongdoing.

Von Ehlinger was appointed to the Legislature by Gov. Little last June after Rep. Thyra Stevenson passed away while in office. He was then elected last November, set to serve until 2022.

The Boise Police Department is investigating the case and von Ehlinger has not been charged. No further action will be taken by the Legislature.