A development that requires noting, delivered just in the nick of time via conservative blogger Ross Kaminsky–today’s latest plagiarism allegation against GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis involves a column printed in the Washington Post in late 1994, substantial portions of which later turned up in an op-ed and congressional floor speech by McInnis. This would, if true, provide further evidence beyond the yesterday’s revelations of widespread plagiarism in essays written by McInnis for the Hasan Foundation.
The problem that emerged this afternoon, as Kaminsky relays, is that the authors of the aforementioned column work for a very, very well-known and politically savvy conservative thinktank called the Heritage Foundation. And here are excerpts from an email sent by one of the authors of that column, Daryl Plunk, to Curtis Hubbard of the Denver Post.
I write to you with respect to your July 14 article and the related editorial which make reference to my past writings and your untrue allegations that gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis may have plagiarized my work.
First, I note that no one from the Denver Post contacted me prior to publishing these scurrilous claims. So, I express to you my outrage that your newspaper would publish such claims and information about me without contacting me in advance. It seems to me highly discourteous and unethical for a news organization to practice such shabby journalism…
Your paper’s article takes aim at a 1994 op-ed article and a 1995 House Floor speech by Rep. McInnis. The Congressman’s staff invited my input into both of those written works, and I was pleased to contribute to them in the editorial process. So while some of the words there indeed are mine, [Pols emphasis] they surely are not “plagiarized”. I was very pleased and proud to have advised and assisted Congressman McInnis on those two straight-forward policy analyses.
With record now set straight for you, I trust you can understand my dismay over this outrageous travesty by your newspaper. I will look forward to hearing about and seeing what steps you might take to correct the record.
We’ve had our run-ins with the Denver Post recently, as you know, but we’ll be the first to say it: Daryl Plunk doth protest too much.
It did occur to us this morning that the Washington Post column McInnis was accused of plagiarizing by the Denver Post was written by Heritage Foundation staff, which gave rise to the possibility that they would be able to provide McInnis an affirmative defense if they wanted to. There are really two possibilities here. The fact is that at this time, 1994, McInnis was still a fairly green Congressman–he was not a foreign policy “expert” by any stretch, although he definitely took an interest, Korea in particular from what contemporary news reports do suggest.
So think about this: if you’re a relatively new Republican Congressman in late 1994, who’s looking to impress people with your breadth of “knowledge” on a given issue, what’s an easy way to do so? Why, as Plunk just about comes out and admits above, you call the Heritage Foundation and have them ghost write for you, naturally! It looks like Mr. Plunk, for all his outrage, might have gotten a little sloppy and reused his own copy in a certain Rocky Mountain News column and congressional floor speech, but who’s going to be the wiser in 1994? It’s not like there’s ever going to be a huge online archive of all this stuff available for easy comparison, right?
Anyway, that’s one theory. The other is that the Heritage Foundation kind of lives to be plagiarized by Republicans in high places, and surely aren’t going to get mad at one if they get caught. Either way, Plunk doesn’t ethically clear the air much, except that voters are reminded once again how “leaders” like McInnis are manufactured by spin doctors from the Heritage Foundation. And it doesn’t change the facts of the original “Musings on Water” plagiarism in the least.
Oh, and the Heritage Foundation didn’t pay $300,000 for their Ward Churchill hose job.