Four days late, Ybarra files campaign finance report

State superintendent Sherri Ybarra filed her campaign finance report Monday evening — four days late.

It wasn’t immediately clear why Ybarra missed the deadline in the first place, or whether she will face any fines for filing a late report. She could face fines of up to $50 per day.

The new sunshine report — covering the days preceding and following Ybarra’s win in the May 15 Republican primary — was due at the close of business Thursday. According to a stamp on the first page of Ybarra’s report, the secretary of state’s office received her paperwork at 6:51 p.m. Monday — hours after Idaho Education News first wrote about her violation.

The report itself shows Ybarra raised and spent money modestly in the runup to the primary.

Ybarra raised only $2,600 from April 30 through May 25. And her biggest donation seemed to have little to do with her work as the state’s superintendent of public instruction and possibly with her position on the state’s Land Board. Ybarra received $1,000 from PotlatchDeltic of Spokane, Wash. On its website, PotlatchDeltic describes itself as a real estate investment trust owning nearly 2 million acres of forests in Idaho, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota and Mississippi.

The Land Board has no direct jurisdiction over PotlatchDeltic’s holdings, but it does have jurisdiction over state endowment lands — including wide swaths of public forests that the state opens up for logging. The state schools superintendent holds one of five voting spots on the Land Board.

Ybarra also received $500 apiece from the Boundary County Republican Central Committee; the Idaho Conservative Growth Fund, based in Washington, D.C.; and Avista Corp., a Spokane-based utility. Ybarra also received another $100 from Chuck and Lauralee Zimmerly of Pocatello; Chuck Zimmerly works as a senior aide in Ybarra’s State Department of Education.

Ybarra’s biggest expense came eight days after the primary, when she paid off a $2,400 loan she had made to her campaign.

Cindy Wilson

Ybarra heads into the general election at a fundraising disadvantage. Cindy Wilson — a retired Boise government teacher — has outraised Ybarra since entering the race in February. And in the runup to her easy win in the Democratic primary, Wilson built on her fundraising edge.

During the April 30 through May 25 filing period, Wilson raised nearly $19,000 to Ybarra’s $2,600.

Wilson begins the general election with nearly $37,000 in hand, compared to Ybarra’s $6,200.

For Ybarra, this isn’t necessarily new. As a political newcomer in 2014, Ybarra won a four-way GOP primary and a closely contested general election — despite being outspent in both races.

Ybarra’s late filing remains unexplained. Timothy R. McMurtrey, Ybarra’s Boise-based campaign treasurer, did not respond to phone messages Monday. Ybarra’s campaign staffers did not respond to a request for comment.

Now it’s up to Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, a fellow Republican, to decide whether to fine Ybarra for the violation. Under the state law, candidates have a grace period of sorts, and the secretary of state has wide discretion. According to the law, the secretary of state can waive the fine “if on an impartial basis he determines that the late filing was not willful and that enforcement of the liability will not further the purposes of the act.”

On Twitter Tuesday morning, Wilson fired off a barb at Ybarra.

“At Lincoln Auditorium for monthly Land Board meeting,” Wilson wrote. “My opponent isn’t here. I wonder if shes (sic) working on her late campaign finance report?”

Ybarra did not attend Tuesday’s Land Board meeting, but she did participate by phone.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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