Today, Rep. Giddings (R-White Bird) appeared before the House Ethics Committee.
Two complaints had been filed against Giddings. One complaint was by Rep. Greg Chaney (R-Caldwell), and approximately two-dozen legislators filed the other complaint from the Republican and Democrat Parties.
After several hours during the hearing, the committee adjourned for the evening and said they wanted the evening to decide whether they will recommend the House take action against Giddings.
Giddings gave an opening statement and blasted the committee for holding the hearing in the first place. Giddings said the hearing was a political attack on her by one of her opponents in the Lt. Governor’s race, Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley).
Giddings said in part of her opening statement:
I am deeply concerned that the woke, cancel culture has provoked a climate of mistruth and mob rule right here in Idaho. As a result it is threatening Idahoans’ 1st amendment rights, as well as the presumption of innocence and the guarantees of equal treatment under the law that are enshrined in written and unwritten laws and tradition throughout our legal and justice systems. . Due process is one of the most important elements of a just society. Countless dictatorships and oligarchies have written laws which are only meant to look good for public consumption but are then twisted to serve the purpose of a domineering government. Anyone who grew up in the Cold War era should be terrified by the memories of the Iron Curtain and the mockery of justice their governments made as a matter of course.
Now, in the Idaho House of Representatives, our legal process and traditions have been derailed, and instead of a presumption of innocence any accused now seems to have a presumption of guilt and a burden of proof of innocence. The accused in this year’s ethics proceedings have enjoyed no privacy and no protection from a trial by public opinion, while the accusers have received every protection and absolute partisan partiality from those processes which should have protected them. The accusers have been supported by public taxpayer money while the accused are left to fend for themselves and indeed have been worked against by taxpayer money. Among many questions I have for and about this proceeding are:
Why is the committee’s legal council a 20 year personal friend of Scott Bedke’s?
Why was I never given a copy of the evidence until now?
Why did Mr. Chairman say “everything is confidential” until probable cause is determined yet details of this hearing was given to the press before it was made public?
Why has the committee reserved to itself the right to modify its Rules of Procedure at any time prior to or even during the hearing itself?
You can read the entirety of Gidding’s opening statement at the end of this article.
After Gidding’s opening statement, Chaney described his complaint, and an attorney representing the other complaint read the complaint and ended his opening statement.
Here is part of Chaney’s complaint (full complaint below):
Relating to the pending ethics complaint against Rep. Von Ehlinger, on or about April 16, 2021 Rep. Giddings posted or caused or allowed to be posted an article disparaging Rep. Von Ehlinger’s accuser, House leadership, and misstating the process by which a public hearing could be authorized under House Rules (please see the aforementioned article attached as EXHIBIT A). Rep. Giddings’ own commentary to the post was to “Follow the Money!” (please see a printout of Rep. Giddings’ Facebook page attached as EXHIBIT B).
Here is part of the complaint from the group of legislators who filed the second complaint (full complaint below):
Rep. Giddings conduct appears to be unbecoming a Representative which is detrimental to the integrity of the House as a legislative body. To maintain a safe workplace at the Idaho House of Representatives, we must be able to receive and respond to reports without interference.
Additionally, people working at the Statehouse must be able to report abuse without the threat of bullying, threats, or invasion of privacy. Representative Giddings’ behavior invaded Jane Doe’s privacy and threatened her safety. it also threatened the integrity of the investigation. Further, appearance of dishonestly while under oath was an affront to the House [redacted}.
The first witness to testify was Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise). Green testified that she was the lead complainant on the second complaint. Green testified that she gathered the list of legislators who signed the complaint and that she was the only one who knew the entire list.
Green testified that she felt the sharing of the article was conduct unbecoming of a legislator. Green also said that she felt Gidding’s testimony during the Aaron von Ehlinger hearing in April was evasive on the posting of the article.
After Green was done testifying, the Ethics Committee determined that because Giddings was not in the room at the time, the committee would wait five minutes for Giddings to appear to cross-examine the witnesses if she wanted to. If Giddings did not show up to cross-examine the witnesses, then the witnesses would be dismissed.
Chaney was the next witness to testify before the committee and was asked questions similar to what he had mentioned in his opening statement. Chaney was asked by Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise), a member of the House Ethics Committee, about how Gidding’s would have been treated by a private employer, to which Chaney replied, “termination.”
Chaney also told the committee that the legislative body must determine if what their members post or not is appropriate and that not all speech is protected by the 1st Amendment.
Three more witnesses were also asked to testify, Rep. John Vander Woude (R-Nampa) and Rep. Chris Mathias (D-Boise). Rep. Julie Yamamoto (R-Caldwell) also testified and said that she felt Giddings was normally truthful in her conduct but that her testimony during the Von Ehlinger hearing did not seem to be as truthful as she normally is.
After a one-hour lunch break, the committee reconvened, and Giddings herself took the stand to testify. Before being sworn in, Giddings asked several questions to the Chair regarding what documents were released and not release. Giddings stated that in a Public Records Request to the committee, her response to the complaints was left out of the release of public documents.
During Gidding’s time on the stand, there was a lot of back and forth between Giddings, the attorney for the House Ethics Committee, Christopher McCurdy, as well as the Representatives on the committee.
Idaho Dispatch disclosed earlier today that McCurdy works for a firm that donated to Bedke’s campaign back in 2016. McCurdy is an Associate for the law firm Holland & Hart.
McCurdy and Giddings went back and forth numerous times with Giddings saying some of McCurdy’s questions were out of line. McCurdy argued that he was asking questions that were pertinent to the hearing.
Several Representatives said they felt Giddings was evasive in answering questions and should have been more direct.
Giddings said that she provided her defense in her opening statement and felt that many of McCurdy’s questions were not relevant to why she was there for the hearing today. Instead, much of the discussion with Crane centered around House Rule 45 and what it does and does not do.
During the hearing, Giddings did not deny that she shared the news article and said she stands by all previous statements.
At the end of the Ethics Committee’s questioning, Giddings said that she had tried to bring in witnesses, but clarification was not given on whether or not they refused to show, did not show, or if Gidding’s changed her mind about having her witnesses testify.
Giddings told the committee that she did not want to “waste any more taxpayer money” on the hearing and asked to be excused. The committee has adjourned for the evening and will be resuming their deliberations and decision tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. MST.
What did you think of the ethics hearing today?
Let us know in the comments below.
Here is the full opening statement from Giddings during the ethics hearing today:
Here is the complaint filed by Chaney:
Here is the complaint filed by approximately two dozen legislators:
Here is Giddings’ response to the complaint filed by Chaney:
Here is Giddings’ response to the complaint filed by other legislators:
Tags: Brent Crane, Brooke Green, Chris Mathias, Christopher McCurdy, Greg Chaney, Holland & Hart, John McCrostie, Julie Yamamoto, Priscilla Giddings, Sage Dixon, Scott Bedke, Wendy Horman