Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) has been caught once again using other people’s written work without attribution, this time in a lawsuit against the NSA that he jointly filed with Virginia’s ex-Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli.
According to the Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank, the suit alleges that the National Security Agency’s domestic phone surveillance program is unconstitutional, but that neither Cuccinelli nor Paul did the bulk of the legal work on the suit. The majority of the suit’s verbiage was lifted verbatim from the work of former Reagan administration attorney Bruce Fein.
Speaking through Mattie Fein, his ex-wife and spokesperson, Fein said, “I am aghast and shocked by Ken Cuccinelli’s behavior and his absolute knowledge that this entire complaint was the work product, intellectual property and legal genius of Bruce Fein. Ken Cuccinelli stole the suit.”
She continued by pointing out that Paul “already has one plagiarism issue, now has a lawyer who just takes another lawyer’s work product.”
Fein and Paul began work on the suit together in 2013, making public appearances together, Milbank said, in June. The case that Paul and Cuccinelli handed in to U.S. District Court in Washington, however, didn’t have Fein’s name listed anywhere.
Cuccinelli, who Milbank said “has never argued a case in that courthouse, and he isn’t even a member of the D.C. bar,” is grasping at relevance after losing the Virginia governor’s race in 2013 to longtime Democratic Party operative Terry McAuliffe. The arch conservative ran on a far-right platform that included more laws restricting women’s access to reproductive health care and abortions, and lost handily to McAuliffe.
Fein is appalled, he said, that Paul would simply remove his name from a case he spent months working on and write in Cuccinelli’s. Fein produced a draft of the suit dated Jan. 15, which Milbank confirmed is an almost word-for-word copy of the one filed on Wednesday.
Paul has faced plagiarism accusations before when it came to light that several of his public appearances in the last few years have contained long passages of copy from Wikipedia and other uncredited sources. The freshman Senator responded belligerently at first, calling journalist Rachel Maddow a “hater” for pointing out the blatant copying and saying that the accusations “annoy the hell” out of him.
Then, as more and more instances of stolen writing began to pile up, Paul blamed his staff and offered to have all future speeches footnoted and annotated “so people will leave me the hell alone.”
Top Paul aide Doug Stafford blasted Fein’s accusations, calling the charges ridiculous and accusing Fein of not being a team player.
“That is crazy and makes no sense if your interest is to work as part of the team. None,” Stafford wrote to Milbank via email.
Fein told the Post that he thinks Cuccinelli is an intellectual lightweight, calling him in one email “as dumb as a box of rocks.”
Despite Cuccinelli’s assurances to reporters that Fein will be “brought in later” in the suit, it appears that Fein is washing his hands of the matter. In an email he wrote to Paul and shared with Milbank, Fein said, “I think this relationship is untenable.”
UPDATE: Bruce Fein came forward Thursday to dispute Milbank and the Post‘s version of events. MSNBC reported that Paul’s political action committee RANDPAC forwarded an email from Fein to journalists disavowing his ex-wife Mattie’s characterization of the situation.
“Mattie Lolavar was not speaking for me,” Fein wrote. “Her quotes were her own and did not represent my views. I was working on a legal team, and have been paid for my work.”