VanderSloot funds anti-Ybarra Facebook campaign

IDAHO FALLS — East Idaho billionaire and prominent conservative Frank VanderSloot is turning to Facebook to criticize Republican incumbent schools superintendent Sherri Ybarra.

On Saturday, just three days before the election, VanderSloot and his team at Riverbend Management posted an ad criticizing Ybarra’s four-year tenure. The ad, which surfaced on a Facebook page dubbed “Frank VanderSloot on Idaho Education,” also praises Ybarra’s Democratic opponent Cindy Wilson and provides a link to an anti-Ybarra webpage.

“Until recently, like many Idahoans, I was largely unaware of the urgent need to replace Sherri Ybarra as superintendent of public instruction,” VanderSloot writes.

The post had garnered 342 shares and 140 comments as of 3 p.m. Monday. An independent expenditures report filed with the Idaho secretary of state shows that Riverbend Management paid $1,474.31 to Facebook in support of Wilson.

The anti-Ybarra webpage, SherriYbarraFacts.com, contains a rundown of Ybarra-related stories published over recent years by various Idaho media outlets, including Idaho Education News. The stories highlight a $100 million error in Ybarra’s 2019-20 budget request, concerns from the state’s top school-safety leader about Ybarra’s $20 million school safety plan and reports of her lack of engagement with lawmakers during the 2018 legislative session.

“When an employee is absent, skips important meetings, shows up unprepared, and makes major accounting errors, it’s probably time to help them find a different career that is better suited to their skill set,” the webpage reads.

Money spent on the Facebook ad comes in addition to two separate contributions to Wilson’s campaign: a $5,000 personal donation from VanderSloot; and a $5,000 donation from Melaleuca Inc., his company that sells nutritional supplements, cleaning supplies and personal-care products.

Ybarra’s campaign did not respond to a request for comments about the Facebook page and website. VanderSloot’s spokesman Tony Lima confirmed VanderSloot’s connection to both online mediums.

VanderSloot, who has predominantly supported Republican candidates in the past, last week announced his support for the Democrat.

EastIdahoNews.com reported recently that VanderSloot is supporting Republican Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s gubernatorial campaign.

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