For the second time this year, the Idaho House has held an “ethics hearing” for something a legislator has done.
The first hearing was regarding the conduct of Rep. Aaron Von Ehlinger (R-Lewiston), who has since resigned. Von Ehlinger faced an ethics hearing for his relations with several women employed at the Capitol during his time as a legislator.
Yesterday, the House Ethics Committee completed another hearing for Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird) over a news article she shared earlier this year. The article contained the name and photo of someone who is currently alleging rape against Von Ehlinger. The two complaints against Giddings also state that some legislators didn’t feel she was honest in her answers to questions about the issue and that she disparaged House leadership.
The Constitution Party of Idaho believes in having an Ethics Committee. Do we also believe that Idaho legislators should be held to a higher standard? Absolutely!
However, what is baffling is why the Idaho legislature holds ethics hearings for some things they think are “conduct unbecoming of a legislator” and why other issues are not put before the public in ethics hearings.
What about some other legislators who conducted themselves in a manner that is unbecoming but never faced a public ethics hearing? Don’t know what we are talking about?
In 2016, Rep. John McCrostie (D-Boise) was caught stealing and destroying campaign material off someone else’s private property. McCrostie lied about stealing the property before finally admitting to doing it.
McCrostie never went through an ethics hearing and was never punished by his colleagues for what he did. He never got censured, reprimanded, or lost his spot on a committee for stealing property.
In fact, McCrosite is on the ethics committee himself!
Do the Democrats really not have anyone that can serve on the Ethics Committee who doesn’t have a scandal on their record.
In yet another example of the lack of consistency for holding legislators responsible for unethical behavior, Rep. Christy Perry (R-Middleton) had an affair with another sitting legislator, Sen. Jim Guthrie (R-McCammon). Both individuals were married, and adultery is still technically a crime in Idaho. In fact, adultery is a FELONY in the state of Idaho.
Did either Perry or Guthrie face a public ethics hearing for all to see? Nope.
Not only did Perry not face an ethics hearing, but House Speaker Scott Bedke also let Perry keep a Chairmanship!
So, the legislator who cheated on her own spouse with another legislator is not only not put through a public spectacle, but she is given a leadership role in the Idaho House?
Perry has since left the legislature, but Guthrie remains as a VICE-CHAIRMAN for the Senate State Affairs Committee. Guthrie also never received any punishment from his colleagues for cheating on his spouse and never faced a public ethics hearing.
In 2014, Senate Fred Martin was investigated by the Boise Police Department for allegedly being in a girl’s bathroom, apparently witnessed by a school custodian, late at night at a local high school in Boise. The police report states that Martin’s explanation for what he was doing at the school was “deceptive” and “inconsistent.”
Was Martin ever put through a public hearing for his conduct? No, of course not.
Martin is currently serving as the CHAIRMAN for the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
In a broader sense, listening to some of the House Ethics Committee members and witnesses talk about the “higher standard” and “honesty” expected of legislators is rather nauseating given how they treat each other daily and yearly.
This year, for instance, many Idaho legislators attacked the pro-2nd Amendment legislation that Sen. Christy Zito (R-Hammett) was fighting for to help block Joe Biden’s gun control agenda. Leadership in the Idaho Senate told the public that Idaho’s laws were fine and Zito’s bill wasn’t needed.
By the end of the session, the Idaho GOP establishment stole Zito’s idea, re-wrote the bill, and claimed it all as their own work.
What’s worse, after they stole Zito’s work, they left Zito off of the “Co-Sponsors” list as the only Senator not to be included on it!
This petty move by Senator Patti Anne Lodge (R-Huston) was ethical? Taking Zito’s idea and making it the GOP establishment’s own idea was ethical?
What’s even worse is that Zito was forced to ask Lodge about the co-sponsorship list, and Lodge wanted Zito to deny a story involving Lodge’s questionable handling of a firearm where Zito was present. Lodge also tried to claim that members of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance told people to protest at her home, a claim the ISAA says is patently false.
Is this ethical behavior by your Idaho Senators? Is the treatment of Zito the “honest” and the “high standard” Idahoans expect from their elected officials?
And the treatment of Zito is not uncommon in the Idaho Capitol. Unfortunately, there are many more stories like this where the establishment GOP, especially those in leadership, will seek revenge on a conservative lawmaker by taking their ideas and claiming them as their own or stripping them of committee assignments.
With these two ethics hearings taking place this year, and the ignoring of so many other unethical behaviors in the Idaho Capitol, is it really that hard to comprehend why citizens think the two ethics hearings this year are politically motivated?
Is it any surprise that citizens feel like the ethics hearing process has been weaponized?
We are not making a statement on the guilt or innocence of Von Ehlinger or Giddings. Our point here is that if what Von Ehlinger and Giddings did is unethical, and this is the standard by which we will hold ethics hearings, then more of these hearings need to occur.
The Constitution Party of Idaho believes that unethical behavior should be exposed, and the public should know if their legislators do not uphold the high standard they claim to espouse.
If dating people at the capitol is unethical, and sharing a news article is unethical because of the content in the article, then theft and adultery also seem like issues that are “conduct unbecoming a legislator,” which are most certainly detrimental to the legislature.
Finally, the Idaho Constitution Party would call on the Democrat Party to immediately remove Rep. John McCrostie from the House Ethics Committee.
McCrostie has no room to talk about ethics, given his past indiscretions as a legislator.
The Idaho legislature must be more consistent with holding its own accountable, and legislators who act unethically should all be held accountable.