Ybarra breaks silence on website wording

(UPDATED, 5:24 p.m., with comments from Steve Yates.)

Republican state superintendent’s candidate Sherri Ybarra says she takes responsibility for the content on her campaign website — and wording that mirrors Democratic candidate Jana Jones’ campaign website.

Ybarra issued a brief statement Thursday afternoon to reporters. The statement does not say whether Ybarra will delete the content in question — which now appears twice on her website.

Here, in full, is the Ybarra statement.

“I was surprised to learn of the similarity in language on the websites on the contact pages. The contact copy page was posted 6 months ago for the primary election in March. I sent my web managers copy regarding issues and positioning statements. They wrote other copy points on the contact page; however, I take responsibility for final copy content.  My focus is, and will continue to be, how we best provide a strong future for Idaho’s children. That future begins with the very best education and preparation we can offer them. As an educator working every day within Idaho’s system, I have the experience and ideas to bring meaningful reforms and work closely with members of the Idaho Legislature and stakeholders to move Idaho education forward.”

Idaho Education News’ Clark Corbin first reported on the website similarities in a story Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Jones is upping the ante in this flap, accusing Ybarra of plagiarism.

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Here is Jones’ statement, also in full:

“I appreciate my opponent taking responsibility for plagiarizing content from my website, but the fact that it happened at all is troubling. Integrity matters in this office, and so does attention to detail. Idahoans have had enough of a superintendent who is not open, honest, and accountable, and my opponent seems to be cut from the same cloth. I will be a superintendent who will provide leadership Idahoans can trust.

On Wednesday, when interviewed about the similarities in the website wording, Jones said she had posted the passages in question before Ybarra entered the race and she was “shocked” about the similarities. However, she did not accuse Ybarra of plagiarism.

The situation is “unfortunate,” state Republican Party chairman Steve Yates told the Associated Press’ Kimberlee Kruesi Thursday, but doesn’t rise to the level of plagiarism.

“This is plain, vanilla prose,” Yates said. “It is still unclear what, if any, real damage was done.”

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