BOISE (Idaho Statesman)– Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a White Bird Republican who controversially shared identifying information about a legislative intern who accused a Republican legislator of sexual assault, is now running for lieutenant governor.
Giddings announced her intention in a press release Friday, two days after Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin announced her run for governor. As a gubernatorial candidate, McGeachin forgoes her seat as lieutenant governor at the end of her term in 2022.
Giddings, a major in the Air Force Reserves, joins the race a few months after one of her former House colleagues, Luke Malek, a Coeur d’Alene Republican, decided to seek the job. Malek, who made his announcement last November, already has been endorsed by several state legislators. He said he has more than $60,000 cash on hand.
The Republican primary will be held in May 2022.
Giddings said she would be “a champion for limited government” and Second Amendment rights, and “a tireless advocate for the unborn.”
“The outgoing lieutenant governor is leaving a vacancy in Idaho leadership, which is critical to fill with a principled conservative,” she said in the news release. “Idaho’s next lieutenant governor needs to have a solid record of conservative leadership to effectively combat our state’s move away from our constitution and our conservative values.”
Malek, who served in the House for six years, co-founded the Smith and Malek law firm. He said he’s a public safety advocate and received the endorsement of the Professional Fire Fighters of Idaho shortly after he announced his candidacy.
“I am running because we need leaders who put Idahoans ahead of personal interests, who show up when the stakes are highest and who understand the relationship between our health and the economy,” Malek said in a November release.
Giddings is currently facing calls for an ethics hearing over her actions during an investigation into Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, a Lewiston Republican who is still the subject of a Boise Police Department inquiry, with rape listed as the offense on the police report. Giddings shared identifying information about the 19-year-old intern who accused von Ehlinger. The intern was referred to as Jane Doe throughout an ethics hearing, and House committee members kept her anonymous during her public testimony.
Von Ehlinger faced an expulsion vote after the House ethics panel investigated and unanimously ruled that he acted in “conduct unbecoming” of a representative. He resigned before the vote could occur.
McGeachin also placed Giddings as co-chair of her task force created to investigate what they say is indoctrination in Idaho’s education system. During the legislative session, Giddings advocated for more cuts to education budgets as a response to fears over “critical race theory” and a “social justice” agenda being taught in schools.
Giddings’ campaign didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Friday. Malek said he’s “laser-focused” on important issues that include education, the economy and public safety. He said he developed a reputation in the Legislature as someone who helps resolve difficult issues.
He said Giddings, by contrast, has done “nothing to move these issues forward.” He also said she was the reason House members didn’t approve $6 million in federal funding for early childhood education.
“I think the biggest accomplishment of her legislative career was tanking the early education bill that the Trump administration had empowered states to build local collaboratives on,” Malek told the Statesman on Friday. “She led the charge on that, and unfortunately she’s been given a pretty broad platform by leadership in the House that she uses to do a lot of damage to Idaho.”