Idaho Dispatch

Your Local Media Ally

Complaint Filed Against Republican Candidate Critchfield for Alleged Campaign Finance Violations

By • August 3, 2021

A complaint has been filed against a Republican candidate for State Superintendent of Education.

Debbie Critchfield is a candidate for State Superintendent of Education for the Republican Party. At least two Republicans have filed to run for the seat in the Republican Primary, and it is unclear if current Superintendent Sherri Ybarra is going to run for re-election.

The complaint filed against Critchfield alleges that she broke campaign finance laws by accepting donations that run contrary to Idaho’s Sunshine laws. Idaho’s Secretary of State office reviews complaints of alleged campaign finance violations.

The person who filed the complaint is a man named Tony Prudente. Additionally, two witnesses are also listed on the complaint, former Representative Bryan Zollinger and Maria Nate, wife of current Representative Ron Nate (R-Rexburg).

In the complaint, Prudente says that Critchfield accepted one donation of $5,000 (statewide candidate limit) from a man named Ryan Phipps.

On May 28, Phipps donated $5,000 to the Critchfield campaign, listing himself as the donor.

Then on May 28, Phipps donated another $5,000 under a business entity named “Western Mountain Construction.” On the same day, Phipps donated another $5,000 under a business entity titled “Western Mountain Inc.”

The complaint states the following law that was allegedly broken:

Idaho Campaign Finance law permits candidates for statewide office to receive donations of $5,000 per entity, per cycle. For these purposes, a business and an individual are considered separate entities. However, no single individual may donate in excess of $5,000 per cycle through more than one business. In other words, it is unlawful for a business owner to donate past the maximum limit even by funneling funds through multiple businesses that they directly control.

Listed in the complaint is a portion of the Idaho code (67-6610A(6)(c)) that Prudente, Nate, and Zollinger allege that Critchfield has violated:

According to the complaint, the donation from Phipps personally and one of his businesses was okay, but his donation from a secondary business under his control violated Idaho law.

Here are images of the donations themselves that can be found on the Secretary of State’s website:

Here are the images of the business entities that are also listed on the Secretary of State’s website (story continues below):

Idaho Dispatch attempted to reach Idaho Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck for comment, but he has not responded at this time.

Additionally, Idaho Dispatch emailed Critchfield to find out if she had a response to the campaign finance allegation filed against her. The email listed on Critchfield’s website, debbieforidahoschools@gmail.com, came back as “Address Not Found.” Idaho Dispatch then used the contact form on Critchfield’s website to try and contact her.

We will keep Idahoans informed about any future developments on this story.


Tags: Bryan Zollinger, Chad Hauk, Debbie Critchfield, Maria Nate, Ryan Phipps, Secretary of State, Tony Prudente