Yesterday, serious allegations were leveled against Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger (R-Lewiston) from a volunteer staffer at the Idaho capitol. Von Ehlinger is a former U.S. Army Veteran and a freshman legislator serving his first full legislative session.
The accusation against von Ehlinger is that he forced a 19-year-old female to perform oral sex on him.
The House Ethics Committee is currently investigating the matter to see if von Ehlinger violated House rules and committed any act “unbecoming” of a legislator.
However, von Ehlinger denies the allegation and says that the sexual contact he had with the alleged victim was consensual, and at no time did she ever say “no” or physically try to stop sexual contact from happening.
The Boise Police Department told a number of other media outlets that they are not currently investigating the matter and Idaho Dispatch is unaware of any current action that the alleged victim is requesting. The Boise Police Department did begin an investigation last month but after several days they stopped the investigation, presumably at the request of the accuser but the name of the individual who requested that the investigation be stopped is redacted.
A letter from Ethics on House Policy Committee Chairman Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay) states that the investigation by the Boise Police Department was initiated at the request of the Attorney General’s office.
Once the investigation was halted, House Leadership decided to move the complaint forward for an official ethics investigation.
The complaint itself is signed by Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley), House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Moyle (R-Star), House Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Jason Monks (R-Meridian), and House Majority Caucus Chair Megan Blanksma (R-Hammett).
In the complaint, it states that von Ehlinger took the alleged victim out to dinner and that the two eventually ended up at his apartment. The letter states that the victim said von Ehlinger had “forgot something” and needed to return to his apartment.
Here is what the complaint then says about what allegedly happened next,
[Redacted] accompanied him up to his apartment. The details of what occurred next are unclear, but at some point, Representative von Ehlinger is alleged to have initiated a sexual encounter with [redacted]. [Redacted] reported that at some point she said ‘no’ to the encounter.
The complaint also says that the alleged victim then spoke with Kim Blackburn, the House Assistant Sergeant at Arms about the incident on March 11th. Blackburn’s statement to the Boise Police Department is also contained within the complaint. Idaho Dispatch is unaware of any direct statement from the alleged victim that is publicly available and the story from the alleged victim’s side comes from Blackburn.
In her statement to BPD, Blackburn says that the alleged victim came to her on March 11th, 2021 to discuss what had happened “last night” inferring March 10th was the date of the incident.
The alleged victim is stated in the letter as telling Blackburn that she was grateful for von Ehlinger because he was nice to her at work. The statement says one time the alleged victim came back to the capitol with lunch that von Ehlinger had paid for and that he told her to keep the change for which she used to pay her “Les Schwab bill.”
The statement says that when the alleged victim was in von Ehlinger’s apartment, that he took off her clothes and had her perform oral sex on him. Blackburn, in the statement, asked the alleged victim if she told von Ehlinger “no” to which the alleged victim replied that she did.
The alleged victim also, according to Blackburn’s statement, brought up concerns about the “power differential” between her and von Ehlinger and told Blackburn, “you know he has a gun?”
Eventually, Blackburn says that she asked the alleged victim if she wished to report the incident and she told Blackburn that she did. Blackburn then says that she informed Speaker Bedke about the alleged incident. Bedke notified the Attorney General’s office who then asked that a law enforcement investigation be conducted. According to the complaint, however, BPD was asked to stop the investigation less than a week later by a name that is [redacated].
There is also a letter from von Ehlinger’s attorney giving his side of the story and the results of a polygraph test which the letter states von Ehlinger passed and supports his denial that he ever committed any illegal sexual acts with the alleged victim.
In the letter, von Ehlinger says that the dinner itself took place on March 9th, not March 10th as the alleged victim indicated to Blackburn. Receipts from the dinner showing the date are mentioned in the letter but were not available to Idaho Dispatch at the time of this writing. The receipts also allegedly indicate that no alcohol was purchased during the dinner the two shared together.
Additionally, von Ehlinger says that he never bought the alleged victim lunch in which he let her keep the change that she then used to pay a Les Schwab bill. According to the letter, von Ehlinger says that during the dinner they had that evening, the alleged victim told him that it was Rep. Monks who had done those things for her. Idaho Dispatch reached out to Monks to ask if he ever gave the alleged victim any money and we have not yet heard back from him on the matter.
Von Ehlinger goes on in the letter to state that he never bought the alleged victim lunch, gave her gas money, or gave her any money at any time for any reason.
Von Ehlinger also states in the letter that he and the alleged victim did go back to his apartment but denied it had anything to do with him forgetting something. He also states that while on the drive home the alleged victim had grabbed his hand and placed it on her leg. The letter continues on and says that the two eventually began getting physically intimate and that eventually, they went to the bedroom where sexual contact, but not intercourse, did take place. The letter states that the alleged victim told von Ehlinger that she was not on birth control and had not “shaved” in a while and that intercourse was not a good idea. The letter states that von Ehlinger was okay with the decision not to have intercourse at that time.
Von Ehlinger’s letter goes on to state that the two of them talked and kissed after their sexual encounter. Von Ehlinger’s statement alleges that the alleged victim told him she was crazy and that she likes to smoke weed. Eventually, the alleged victim asked to go home according to the letter at which time von Ehlinger says he drove her to her car, the two kissed, and she left.
Several days later, once the allegation surfaced, the letter claims that von Ehlinger learned from other legislators that Speaker Bedke had warned other legislators that they should “steer clear” or “watch out” when it came to interacting with the alleged victim. Idaho Dispatch sent an email to Bedke asking if he ever made statements attributed to him about the alleged victim but we have not yet received a response at the time of this writing.
The letter from von Ehlinger’s attorney also states that he had never asked the alleged victim to do anything for him at the Idaho capitol and that he has no supervisory role over her. Additionally, the letter states that the alleged victim did not know if von Ehlinger carried a weapon, that she had not claimed in the letters attributed to her statements to have seen a gun, or that von Ehlinger had ever mentioned a gun.
Finally, the letter from von Ehlinger’s attorney states that he took a polygraph on March 29th, 2021, several weeks after the alleged incident.
The polygraph was completed by Clifford Morgon, who the letter says has done polygraphs, including for the BPD, for decades.
In the polygraph itself, the letter states that the following three questions were asked and the following three answers were given:
- Have you ever given [redacted] money? Answered: No.
- During your sexual encounter with [redacted] – did she ever indicate verbally or non-verbally that she did not want to participate? Answered: No.
- Have you ever supervised [redacted] or directed her to perform any official duties as an intern for the legislature? Answered: No.
The letter indicates that von Ehlinger passed the examination and the report was made available to Dixon, who is the Chairman of the Ethics on House Policy Committee.
Finally, von Ehlinger’s letter closes, in part, by stating,
Rep. von Ehlinger has not engaged in misconduct as described in the House Rules Regarding Ethics, and accordingly, the ethics complaint should be dismissed and remain confidential as required by House Rule 45(3).
However, the committee’s complaint states that “probable cause” exists they can move forward with a public hearing. Once that decision is made, the complaint is made public.
The committee will now hold a public hearing on the matter at a date to be determined and Dixon told Idaho Dispatch that a hearing date could be announced some time next week.
The committee is made up of five members, three Republicans and two Democrats. During the hearing, both sides can make their case before the committee.
After the hearing is complete, the committee has several possible options which you can see here as part of House Rule 45:
If after investigation and hearings held pursuant to this rule, the committee finds by clear and convincing evidence that a violation of the standards contained in the rule occurred, the committee shall make appropriate recommendations to the House of Representatives.
By four-fifths vote of the committee, the committee shall recommend dismissal of the charges, reprimand, censure or expulsion, provided that a recommendation for expulsion shall only be based upon a finding beyond reasonable doubt that misconduct involves commission of a felony or use of public office for pecuniary gain under subsection 2(b)(iii) of this rule.
Once the hearing date is set, Idaho Dispatch will announce the hearing date.
If any further comment is given to Idaho Dispatch regarding this story, it will be posted at the top as an “Update.”
Complaint: (click images to enlarge)
Letter from von Ehlinger’s attorney: (click images to enlarge)
Tags: Aaron von Ehlinger, Clifford Morgon, House Rule 45, Idaho Legislature, Jason Monks, Mike Moyle, Sage Dixon, Scott Bedke