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Mary Burke defends against plagiarism accusations

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate said the campaign had cut ties with consultant Eric Schnurer after allegations of plagiarism came to light.

By
Gabrielle Levy
Mary Burke. (Facebook)
Mary Burke. (Facebook)

MADISON, Wis., Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke continued to fend off criticism over parts of her economics platform that were plagiarized.

Burke Friday said the portions of her state jobs plan, rural communities plan and veterans plan copied from previous candidates and other sources were written by Eric Schnurer, a political consultant.

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Speaking with WUWM Friday, Burke sought to minimize Schnurer's involvement with the campaign and said the text was from other economic plans Schnurer had written himself.

"The thing that was wrong was that Eric used some very similar language, some exact words that he had used in other plans that he had provided to other campaigns," Burke said. "And that's wrong, and that's why we cut ties with his firm."

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Portions of Burke's economic plan "Invest for Success" included nearly identical passages to some that appeared in plans by former Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Ward Cammack in 2009, a 2008 plan from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe during his failed 2009 bid, and John Gregg in his failed run for governor of Indiana in 2012. Other parts were found to come from a White House press release and a Harvard report.

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"I brought in ideas I thought would work here in Wisconsin and that have worked in other places to obtain innovative ideas on how we're going to grow Wisconsin's economy," the former Trek Bicycles executive told reporters Sunday. "But Eric should not have used the same language that he used in providing services to other clients."

And on Sunday, BuzzFeed reported other parts of Burke's platform were copied from a variety of sources.

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She sought to downplay the revelations as "extremely limited" portions of the 45-page plan.

"I am going to draw on best practices and innovative ideas that are working in other parts of the country," she said. "But these plans are very in depth and what has been identified are very small passages, scattered throughout that, that have, uh, maybe been used in other plans that this consultant developed."

"This is something that is extremely limited and the main bulk of this work is work that I have been deeply involved with," she continued. "And there not ideas in those plans unless I thought that they were great ideas for Wisconsin on how we're going to move our economy forward."

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Burke's opponent, incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, hammered her campaign on Monday.

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"This is not just a campaign flier, some mailer out there that you can see inadvertently something like that happening," Walker said. "This was her plan, and now some of the other plans that are connected to that, appear to leave serious questions out there."

"I think if you're hyping the campaign about how the (jobs) plan is the centerpiece, how it's based, kind of rubbing our nose in it, in the fact she went to Harvard Business School, somehow implying that means her work is superior to anyone else's here in the state, and then you find out that portions of it were taken from elsewhere without attribution, I think those are very serious issues."

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