US news Idaho Lawmaker Is Censured for Doxxing Intern Who Reported Rape Debbie Maloy writes that State Representative Phyllis Theiss, a Democrat from Idaho, was censured by the House and reprimanded by the Senate after she posted the student’s personal information online without her permission Delegates say the 68-year-old lawmaker “has a history of making other inappropriate and unwelcome advances.” Photograph: Jeffrey Wong/AP
On Wednesday evening, Idaho state representative Phyllis Theiss was censured by the state House for her “highly inappropriate and insensitive behavior towards women in her elected position.”
Theis, a Democrat from Caldwell, Idaho, was found to have engaged in online harassment against a former legislative aide who reported she was raped in 2015 by a member of the legislative staff. Theis posted the intern’s personal information to her campaign website (which was subsequently taken down), and as of June 5, over 4,000 people had signed a petition asking for her resignation.
On May 20, Theis wrote a letter to John Rawlins, the intern’s father, wherein she recounted the sexual misconduct that occurred after she refused Theis’ unwanted advances. Theis, she wrote, called her a “slut” and a “whore”, and suggested that Rawlins be arrested because she had left a party early.
Theis also shared Rawlins’ email address, home address, and listed his child in her contact information as a result of the incident.
Representative Ross Williams from Ketchum is also being investigated for the same misconduct, which Williams first addressed in March. According to the Idaho Press-Tribune, a formal complaint was filed against Theis on June 3.
The House is in the process of deciding whether to reprimand Theis in either the House or Senate, but as Maloy points out, the House offered no form of support for Theis after they censured her.
“That does not mean they didn’t give her this much attention,” says Beauchamp, who has attended many protests against Theis. “But it’s very telling that they didn’t even give her an endorsement of what she did.”
The woman who reported the rape, Rachel Bucher, defended Theis in an interview last month, claiming that her job required her to be friendly with representatives, and that Theis’s actions were in her capacity as a legislator. Bucher said:
Ms. Theiss is a seasoned legislator, and an experienced woman. As a direct consequence of her service, this victim of a sexual assault only went to law enforcement when Ms. Theiss called them and her actions, those of all members, were illegal.
On May 23, the Idaho Senate considered and denied a motion to censure Theiss, prompting Theis to apparently organize “a new online group of women who work in public service in the state of Idaho.”
The press release from Theiss’s campaign noted that the group was organized to support “any member of the House of Representatives who is facing harassment, retribution, or retaliation from constituents or other members of their community, or from the media.”
Attorney Walter Christensen, the current Democratic Chair of the Idaho Legislature, further implored that there should be a change to state election law to allow voters to anonymously remove or replace representatives. He says the current law makes it very difficult for voters to remove abusers from office.