Washington Times

Ethics committee to vote Thursday on Idaho lawmaker’s case

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – A legislative ethics committee is expected to vote late Thursday morning on whether Idaho Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger should face reprimand or other consequences in connection with allegations that he raped a 19-year-old intern.

Von Ehlinger has denied all wrongdoing and maintains that he had consensual sexual contact with the young woman.

The investigation arose in March when the intern reported to a supervisor that von Ehlinger raped her at his apartment after the two had dinner at a local restaurant. The Boise Police Department is investigating the case, and von Ehlinger has not been charged.

The ethics hearing isn’t a criminal proceeding. Instead, it’s intended to help ethics committee members decide whether von Ehlinger should face penalties – up to and including being expelled from the Legislature – for “conduct unbecoming” of a lawmaker.

Public ethics hearings and penalties against lawmakers are rare but not unheard of in Idaho.

Republican Rep. John Green of Post Falls was expelled on a 65-0 vote on Jan. 16, 2020, after he was convicted of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government. Prosecutors in that case said he helped a wealthy Texas couple hide assets to avoid paying income taxes when Green worked as an attorney there. In Green’s case, no public hearing was held because Idaho’s Constitution doesn’t allow someone to hold any civil office if convicted of a felony, but two-thirds of the full House must vote to expel someone.

Republican Sen. John McGee resigned rather than face a public ethics hearing after he was accused of sexually assaulting a staffer in his office. He was ultimately charged and convicted of disturbing the peace in connection with that incident. Republican Sen. Jack Noble resigned from office in 2005 following weeks of allegations that he failed to declare a conflict of interest and lied to a special ethics panel.

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Associated Press reporter Keith Ridler contributed to this story.

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