Idaho’s Kangaroo Court House “Ethics” Committee is Back at it
Opinion by Hazafi Polgár
Idaho’s House “ethics” committee is back for a second round of attacking a conservative legislator. This time it’s Priscilla Giddings. Why? Because in her legislative newsletter, she linked to a publicly available and widely read news article. And come August 2, the “ethics” committee will be, in essence, holding court about this horrible misdeed, but without having to follow any of the rules required of a court.
No, the “ethics” committee once again gets to be the prosecutor, judge, AND jury. Plus, they get to do it using money from the public coffers.
Yes, you read that correctly. They’re doing it by spending YOUR money. LOTS of your money.
You should also know that 100% of the money spent by the House “ethics” committee investigating Priscila Giddings has been authorized solely by Scott Bedke, Speaker of the House. That’s because not a dime gets spent from the House legal fund without Bedke’s authorization.
It should be of interest to anyone who has genuine ethics that Scott Bedke announced he’s running for lieutenant governor to challenge Priscilla Giddings, who had previously announced. That’s fine in and of itself, but how convenient and how coincidental that more than $100,000 of public money from the House legal fund has been spent to “investigate” Bedke’s political rival, all under the guise of an “ethics” investigation.
Here’s the short version: Bedke’s rival gets attacked by a committee that has members appointed as chairs to other committees by Bedke, using a complaint signed by Bedke, and using public funds authorized by Bedke.
Translated: Bedke didn’t have to spend a dime of his own money.
Sound ethical? No, not in the least. But it doesn’t’ matter. Any ethics complaint filed against Speaker Bedke would go directly into the circular file. Sage Dixon aspires to be part of House leadership and he knows Bedke can help make that happen, so Dixon knows not to bite the hand that feeds him.
Speaking of “ethics,” perhaps you remember that representative from Garden City who stole his opponent’s campaign materials and destroyed them? And after he was finally cornered into confessing, he never even apologized?
That representative would be none other than John McCrostie. And guess what? House Speaker Scott Bedke didn’t object to McCrostie being put on the “ethics” committee. Again, you read that correctly. There’s a thief on the “ethics” committee. Even after the theft was known by Bedke, Bedke still had no objection to a thief seated on the “ethics” committee. Not exactly best ethical decision-making displayed there by Bedke, but hey, we’re talking about the guy who yells at and removes people from their chairmanships when they don’t vote for him to be Speaker.
The “ethics” committee recently released the “rules” they will use when interrogating Giddings. Notice I keep using quotes around the words “ethics” and “rules.” That’s because they’re not rules. So long as Sage Dixon and the rest of Bedke’s attack dogs on the “ethics” committee can change the rules whenever they want, they’re not rules.
Of course, there doesn’t seem to be a way to charge the “ethics” committee with unethical behavior (does anyone really think the “ethics” committee is going to investigate itself?), so they are getting away with doing whatever they want.
Through feats of pretzel logic and legal contortions, Sage Dixon has pulled out the same unethical playbook he used when he and Scott Bedke’s attack dogs went after another conservative veteran mere months ago.
But this time they’re not dealing with a freshman legislator who couldn’t control his hormones. This time they’re dealing with a battle-tested and nine-times decorated Air Force fighter pilot by the name of Priscilla Giddings.
There’s no way Bedke is going to win a race for lieutenant governor against Giddings. And Bedke, the perennial power broker, would have quite the blow to his ego losing to someone junior to him – especially a woman. You see, Bedke is not known for liking strong women, and Giddings is known as a strong woman. In fact, her Air Force call sign was “Altoid,” because others in her squadron found her to be “curiously strong.”
So here’s a summation of what we can surmise: Bedke knows he can’t beat Giddings in the lieutenant governor’s race, so what does he do? He signs an ethics complaint against Giddings and he gathers Democrats and “establishment” Republicans to join him. Then he authorizes the “ethics” committee to spend LOTS of public money to investigate Giddings and then hold a public hearing in which they will try their damnedest to smear her name.
The last time this “ethics” committee went after a conservative legislator, “ethics” committee member Brent Crane, the self-proclaimed “third most powerful person” in the House, had stated long before the hearing occurred that he knew the person was guilty, and Crane would see that he was expelled. Crane will again be an active participant of the Kangaroo Court on August 2, despite the rumors that at least one person in the House filed an ethics complaint against him for his pre-determined conclusion of guilt. Past behavior is not a guarantee of future results, but it’s fair to say that Crane is probably not rooting for a fair and balanced outcome.
In the end, the “ethics” committee will do what it can to damage Giddings. That’s what Bedke wants. The committee may play a game of dictionary distortion, misrepresenting Giddings words and inventing some reason to expel or censure her, but doing so will only further damage the idea that Idaho has an ethical House “ethics” committee. What’s sad and tragic (and borderline criminal) is Bedke won’t care. He is no doubt terrified of the idea of losing a lieutenant governor race to a legislator who’s junior to him, and most especially to a woman. To prevent that from happening, Bedke appears to be perfectly okay authorizing the “ethics” committee to spend $100,000+ of your money to smear her name.
This is not exactly the most ethical move a legislator could take. And it’s certainly not the kind of behavior we’d ever want to see of someone sitting in the lieutenant governor’s office.
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