Idaho House Seat Filled After Lawmaker Accused Of Rape Quits

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little has appointed Lori McCann of Lewiston to the Legislature to fill a seat left empty after the previous lawmaker resigned amid a rape investigation.

Little made the announcement Monday, saying the retired Lewis-Clark State College professor will begin serving in the House of Representatives immediately, and continue until the next general election.

The former District 6 representative, Aaron von Ehlinger, resigned last month after a 19-year-old intern reported that he raped her and an ethics committee unanimously found he engaged in “unbecoming conduct.” Von Ehlinger has denied any wrongdoing and maintains the sexual encounter was consensual. The Boise Police Department is investigating the allegations, and von Ehlinger has not been charged.

The legislative ethics committee found after a public hearing that von Ehlinger had behaved unbecomingly and recommended that the full House vote to kick him out of the statehouse without pay or benefits until his term expired. But before the House could vote on the matter, von Ehlinger resigned, saying that he would no longer be able to effectively represent his constituents but maintaining his innocence.

His departure triggered a process — outlined by state law and party rules — to select a successor. The 6th District Republic Central Committee nominated and voted on eight people to replace von Ehlinger, counted up the ballots and sent a list of three names to the governor's office: Glen Baldwin, Robert Blair and Hannah Liedke.

However, after that list was sent, it was discovered that there was an error in the way the ballots were tabulated, The Lewiston Tribune reported earlier this month. The list should have included Baldwin, Blair and McCann. The error wasn't discovered until after the deadline for submitting the list had already passed, however.

The governor's office said McCann is extensively involved in the community, including serving as a board member for Idaho Business for Education and the Idaho Community foundation. She's also the incoming president for the Lewis-Clark State College Foundation board of directors.