Plagiarism charges dog Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul admits to "mistakes" in lifting other people's words without citation, but instead of appearing contrite, has become defiant in the face of his detractors.
Posted By Gabrielle Levy  |  Nov. 6, 2013 at 11:10 AM
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(UPI) -- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has been accused of plagiarizing everything from Wikipedia to the Heritage Foundation, and though he's stayed defiant -- even challenging detractors to a duel -- he promised a restructuring of his staff.

“This is coming from haters to begin with because they want the implication to be out there that you’re dishonest," Paul said, after revelations he had swiped, or at least failed to properly cite, others' writing in his speeches, columns and even a book.

Still, Paul acknowledged the mistakes, although no one in his office would be fired.

"What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers,” he said. “We’re going to try to put out footnotes.”

A senior advisor for the senator, Doug Stafford, said the mistakes were a matter of oversight, not deliberate copying.

"In the thousands of speeches and op-eds Sen. Paul has produced, he has always presented his own ideas, opinions and conclusions," Stafford said in a statement.

"Sen. Paul also relies on a large number of staff and advisers to provide supporting facts and anecdotes -- some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly," he said. "There have also been occasions where quotations or typesetting indentations have been left out through errors in our approval process. From here forward, quoting, footnoting and citing will be more complete."

Allegations of plagiarism first surfaced last week when MSNBC host Rachel Maddow caught Paul quoting almost directly from the Wikipedia page on the movie Gattaca in an October 28 speech.

A review of his previous speeches found a June 12 immigration speech quoted from the Wikipedia entry on Stand and Deliver, and a Washington Times column from September 20 borrowed text from a September 14 Dan Stewart article in The Week.

Paul also used content from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute without citation in his book, Government Bullies.

And while some of the people he ripped off don't seem to mind -- The Week's editor-in-chief Bill Falk thanked Paul for the publicity, as did representatives from Cato and Heritage -- others are reminded of another politician plagiarizing, and seeing his career nearly fail for it.

Back in 1988, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden's White House bid was derailed by revelations he had lifted wholesale the life story of British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock, even details that contradicted Biden's own biography.

For Biden, the dishonesty that came along with his plagiarism, and his attempts to brush off its implications, meant losing the trust of the electorate. As for Senator Paul, who seems to have presidential ambitions of his own, it is too early to know whether his own plagiarizing will become a real political liability.

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