Critchfield corrects campaign finance complaint

Debbie Critchfield, a candidate for Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction, says she has fixed a campaign finance issue that was the subject of a complaint filed earlier this week with the Secretary of State’s office.

On Tuesday, website Idaho Dispatch wrote about a complaint to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office alleging that Critchfield had violated campaign finance laws by accepting more than the allowable limit of campaign contributions from Magic Valley businessman Ryan Phipps and his companies.

Debbie Critchfield, candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Critchfield said she spoke with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office on Wednesday morning and has remedied the issue by diverting one of Phipps’ contributions from funding her primary campaign, to a fund for the general election. The Secretary of State’s office confirmed the correction was made.

“As far as illegally taking money, that hasn’t happened. We made the correction with one of the donations,” Critchfield said. “I worked with the Secretary of State’s Office to make that correction, to be fully compliant.”

The complaint was filed by Eagle resident Tony Prudente, and also included former Idaho Rep. Bryan Zollinger and Maria Nate — wife of current Idaho Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg) — as witnesses.

Idaho campaign finance laws allow an individual and corporations to contribute up to $5,000 to a candidate per election. Phipps contributed $5,000 to Critchfield’s campaign in May, according to Critchfield’s campaign filings. He’s also the registered agent on two businesses, Western Mountain Inc. and Western Mountain Construction, which each donated $5,000 separately.

The complaint alleges that the second corporate donation violated the campaign limits, because an elections law says two businesses are treated like the same entity if they share the majority of members on their board of directors, share two or more officers or are owned or controlled by the same majority shareholder.

In an email, Phipps echoed Critchfield saying the issue has been resolved by designating his contributions separately to the primary and general elections.

“I look forward to Debbie winning and doing what’s best for every kiddo in the state,” Phipps said in an email. “She is the right candidate for the job.”

In an emailed statement Wednesday morning, Critchfield said she’s “excited to have the support of Idahoans that believe we have a winning campaign that’ll take us through the primary and to the general.”

About Sami Edge

Reporter Sami Edge, a University of Oregon graduate, joined Idaho Education News in 2019. She is a 2019 Education Writers Association fellow reporting on Latino student outcomes in Idaho. She also is a 2019 American Press Institute fellow. She can be reached at [email protected].

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