The home state of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) may contain the country’s largest population of college students, but Brown appears to have committed one of academia’s cardinal sins: plagiarism.
American Bridge 21st Century, a Super PAC associated with liberal causes, discovered that Brown’s website contained chunks of text taken verbatim from a campaign speech for Elizabeth Dole’s 2002 North Carolina Senate run, the transcript of which was posted to her website.
In a message to students on his site, which has since been removed, Brown borrowed from Dole’s childhood memories, omitting only one line: “I am Mary and John Hanford’s daughter.”
“I was raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference,” the message reads. “From an early age, I was taught that success is measured not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself, to pursue positive change through a sense of mission, and to stand up for what I believe.”
Brown spokesman John Donnelly told the Boston Globe that the copied text was a staff mistake.
“Senator Dole’s website served as one of the models for Senator Brown’s website when he first took office. During construction of the site, the content on this particular page was inadvertently transferred without being rewritten,” Donnelly said. “It was a staff level oversight which we regret and is being corrected.”
Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge 21st Century, told the Globe that the incident was indicative of “what kind of politician [Brown] is.”
“This kind of plagiarism makes me wonder how many things about Scott Brown are really genuine,” Mollineau said.
That may not be the only section of Brown’s site that has traces of Dole’s language, Politico reported.
On a page about internships with the senator, another section of text mirrors Dole’s site.
“Senator Brown has long encouraged young people to become involved in the political process,” Brown’s intern page reads. “As a public servant, he strongly believes that public service is a noble thing to do, and a wonderful way to give back.”
Dole’s intern page uses the same language.
Donnelly told Politico that he could not comment on the similar intern page language.
Brian Nick, Dole’s former chief of staff, told Politico that the lifted language debacle was “much ado about nothing.”
“It’s human error by someone who was using templates content and inadvertently grabbed some non-template content,” he said. “Democrats are doing what they can with this for obviously reasons, but, pretty silly stuff.”
Creative Commons image via flickr user Mark Sardella.