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Idaho voters favor Republican plagiarist who lied about education and marital history

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The Republican candidate for the top education job in Idaho has been caught lying about her education, endorsements, and marital history – but she’s still leading in the polls.

Sherri Ybarra has claimed throughout her campaign that she expected to earn a doctorate in education in August, but she instead received an education specialist degree from the University of Idaho, reported The Spokesman-Review.

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Her campaign spokeswoman said Ybarra did not intend to mislead voters, but she said the candidate had decided to apply some of the credits she’d earned in the doctorate program toward the lesser degree.

“She’s been working toward this for a long time,” said spokeswoman Melinda Nothern. “(But) she changed her mind.”

Ybarra holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Idaho, reported The Spokesman Review, and she has been enrolled off and on since 2007 in the education specialist program.

She was enrolled this summer in that program and the doctorate program, and her spokeswoman claimed Ybarra was still enrolled and actively pursuing that degree.

Her Democratic opponent, Jana Jones, earned a doctorate from Idaho State in 2001, and she said there’s “no way” Ybarra could have earned a doctorate in just one semester.

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Jones, who trailed Ybarra by three points in a poll conducted last week, said her opponent’s behavior is baffling.

“At this point with everything else that’s gone on, I just think she misleads the public, and I don’t understand why,” Jones said. “But she does, and then acts like it’s no big deal — and I just find that puzzling.”

Ybarra previously apologized for plagiarizing material from her opponent’s campaign website and posting it on her own campaign website, the newspaper reported.

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She also inaccurately claimed a former opponent in the Republican primary had become an official in her campaign.

Ybarra has spent this week clarifying her marital history after claiming in an interview that she had moved to Idaho in 1996 with her husband when he was transferred by the military.

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She did move to the state that year with her husband, reported the Idaho Statesman, but not her current spouse – who she married in 1999 and declined to identify by name in an interview earlier this year.

When the Statesman questioned her about her previous marriage, Ybarra said she did not recall how long she had been married or when exactly she was divorced.

“My brain doesn’t operate in the past,” she told the newspaper.

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Ybarra also admits she has never voted in Idaho since moving there, but she claims she’s running for state superintendent to atone for her lapse.

“That’s a civic duty, and if elected, this will be a civic duty that I will repay Idaho through for my lack of having a consistent voting history — and I would be honored to do that,” Ybarra said Tuesday during a televised debate.

Watch the debate posted online by KTVB-TV:

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