BOISE — District 6 has a house seat vacant following resignation by Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger (R., Lewiston) last week, following a House Ethics Committee recommendation the first-term representative be censured and suspended for conduct unbecoming an Idaho state representative — specifically, in regards to an allegation he raped a 19-year-old House intern.
At this point, the 6th Legislative District Republican Central Committee will have 15 days to submit the names of three potential replacements to Gov. Brad Little, who will choose one to fill the seat until after the 2022 general election.
According to an Idaho Capital Sun report, the resignation followed two days of proceedings in the ethics committee and last Thursday’s April 29 decision by members of the committee to recommend von Ehlinger’s censure. The committee also said it would support his expulsion from the House. The committee had expressed intent to move forward with punishing von Ehlinger for contempt, for invoking his Fifth Amendment rights and declining to answer questions about the alleged March 9 incident.
The decision came that Thursday morning following nearly six hours of testimony on Wednesday, according to the story, during which the committee heard from a 19-year-old legislative intern, identified only as Jane Doe, who has reported to the Boise Police Department and other legislative staffers and representatives that von Ehlinger, 38, raped her by forcing her to perform oral sex on him. Following committee investigation, the committee determined sufficient probable cause to move forward on the complaint on April 16.
As part of von Ehlinger’s resignation letter, he stated, “...after careful deliberation and prayer I have determined that I will not be able to continue to effectively represent my constituents in the Idaho House of Representatives and have decided to resign my seat effective immediately. It is my hope that this action spares my good colleagues any more difficulty in this area. … The House Ethics Committee has decided to recommend an expulsion in all but name under the guise of ‘censure.’ I maintain my innocence of any wrongdoing of which I have been accused in this matter, let alone any violation of any law, rule or policy of the State of Idaho or of this body. I wish my constituents, colleagues and the body all the best. It has been an honor to serve.”
On the committee’s censure decision, Governor Brad Little stated his full support, adding, “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.”
Little said, “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.” This praise for the victim was echoed by Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, who noted, “... her incredible courage and determination in testifying in front of the Ethics and House Policy Committee.... 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.”
“His behavior is something we will not tolerate and casts a shadow over the good work done in the Idaho Statehouse,” Bedke said.
— News coverage from the Idaho Capital Sun and Lewiston Tribune was compiled for this story.